Croatia ease to win over Algeria

17 Mar. 2024

Croatia ease to win over Algeria

Two teams going in different directions met in the final game of the Men’s Olympic Qualification Tournament 2 in Hanover, Germany.

Croatia, who are on their way to the Paris 2024 Olympic Games saw off Algeria, out of contention for France, by 12 goals.

Men’s Olympic Qualification Tournament 2 – Hanover (Germany)
Croatia vs Algeria 34:22 (15:11)

Dagur Sigurdsson made four changes to his squad ahead of this clash from their win on Saturday against Germany, taking out Mario Sostaric, Matej Mandic, Luka Cindric and Jakov Gojun and bringing in Mateo Maras, Kristian Pilipovic, Nikola Grahovac and Tin Lucin.

This game afforded him the luxury of seeing his extended squad in action in a competitive match, albeit one which had no bearing on any qualification mathematics.

And with six saves in the first 10 mins by Croatia’s Dominik Kuzmanovic, the end result was already clear in the 10th minute as a tired Algeria – the players of whom are observing the Muslim fasting period of Ramadan and who admitted it had affected their energy levels – found themselves six goals down (9:3).

Despite numerous mistakes and technical faults (11 turnovers in the first half) – something which Sigurdsson will be sure to have noted as work to do – Croatia slowly extended their lead, despite a head injury to Grahovac which saw him not return to action and a red card for Zvonimir Srna for an accidental foul on Ayyoub Abid, all before half-time.

Abid and the ever-impressive Khalifa Ghedbane in goal – with 10 saves – did their best, but this game which had the atmosphere of a preparation match about it, was already out of reach after the first 30.

While the Croatia lead was just four (15:11) at the pause, they were playing in second gear as Algeria did their best to keep in touch. The second half was more one-sided in favour of the Europeans, who scored a further 19 goals to end their campaign in Germany on a high.

In 2008 in Zadar, Croatia, these two teams met in the first edition of the Olympic Qualification Tournaments with the host side winning 37:26 and going on to finish fourth at the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games.

Now, with their pathway under Sigurdsson confirmed for the next six months, Croatia will be looking to go at least one better in Paris.

hummel Player of the Match: Dominik Kuzmanovic (Croatia)