Team Players

Team Info

“It is a great honour and responsibility for us to be back at an IHF Men’s Beach Handball World Championship as this is Croatia's 10th participation and we have never missed one,” said Croatia coach Mladen Paradžik to ahead of China 2024.

Croatia have medalled in six of those nine championships, most recently picking up gold at Greece 2022, which qualified them directly to China 2024. They also come to Pingtan as reigning The World Games champions from 2022.

With their pedigree across three decades, Croatia can truly be called one of the founding fathers and historically-best teams of the men’s event, added to which their youth team winning the 2022 IHF Men’s Youth Beach Handball World Championship, ensuring the Croatian conveyor belt of talent is in full operation with some of those likely to step up to the senior side this month.

But Croatia are not unbeatable. A year ago in Nazare, Portugal, they finished in a shock seventh spot at the 2023 European Championships after going down 0-2 to Germany in the quarter-finals. The ranking was their second-lowest since entering the continental event in 2002. 

Despite this knockback, a wealth of talent runs through the Croatian men, starting with coach Paradžik and including captain Ivan Juric alongside Ivan Dumencic and Lucian Bura, with the quartet all named for the IHF Beach Handball Showcase on the sidelines of the Paris 2024 Olympic Games next month.

“Our goals are set high,” said Bura, who tops-scored at Greece 2022 and was named MVP and best right wing, to 

“As in every championship, we strive to win the podium, and now we have the opportunity to defend our title. The championship will certainly not be easy, because the sport is growing year by year, and the competition is getting stronger. With dedication and teamwork, I believe we have a chance to achieve our goal. Every match will be crucial, but with a good strategy and performance, we can hope for success.”

Last March, the European Handball Federation released their men’s beach handball national ranking with Croatia in top spot and they will be the team to beat in China with Portugal, Puerto Rico and Argentina – who handed them their only loss at The World Games in the USA – facing them first in the preliminary stage.

“We aware of our own strength, but we also want to emphasise that we are aware of the strength of the opposing teams,” added Paradžik. “Every game will be important and we will have to give our best from the very first game to defend the title we won two years ago – if you are the defending champions, then all the other teams are ‘after you’ and even more motivated to beat you.

“A tough task lies ahead of us. Sometimes we will succeed, sometimes we will not, but our attitude and expectations are always high and always the same: we want to be amongst the best teams.”

Coach: Mladen Paradzik

Key Players: Ivan Juric, Ivan Dumencic, Lucian Bura

Qualification information: Defending champions

History in Tournament: 2004: 4th, 2006: 7th, 2008: 1st, 2010: 7th, 2012: 3rd, 2014: 2nd, 2016: 1st, 2018: 2nd, 2022: 1st

Group at China 2024: Group C: Croatia, Argentina, Portugal, Puerto Rico