Croatia sack Horvat, Goran Perkovac new head coach of the men's national team

03 Feb. 2023

Croatia sack Horvat, Goran Perkovac new head coach of the men's national team

Croatia ended their 2023 Men's World Championship journey already in the main round, finishing in ninth place, and thus missed the quarterfinals and the secure spot in the Olympic Games qualification tournament. In a country with high expectations, the performance at the Poland/Sweden 2023 was declared as a failure.

A week after the return from the world handball flagship competition, the Croatian Handball Federation announced that Hrvoje Horvat is no longer the men's national team head coach and fired the whole coaching staff along with coordinator Lino Červar.

Červar carried out a detailed analysis of the work and gave his opinion on Horvat's work, suggesting Goran Perkovac as the new head coach. His analysis was not approved by the Management Board of the Croatian Handball Federation, but the same Board decided to fire Horvat, the coaching staff and coordinator Červar and accept Perkovac as the new head coach.

Three major handball championships without success that could resemble the old glory led to new changes. For 16 years, since winning the 2003 IHF Men's World Championship, Croatia were never ranked worse than 6th place.

Following 15th place at Egypt 2021, eighth place at EHF EURO 2022 and ninth place at Poland/Sweden 2023, the Croatian Handball Federation decided to take a new turn.

Goran Perkovac is a former team captain that led Croatia to their first gold medal at the Olympic Games in Atlanta in 1996. Croatian handball fans hope Perkovac will return the spark and line up the best players in an effort to get back on medal-winning track.

Perkovac spent most of his playing and coaching career in Switzerland, most recently in Krines Luzern, with a short stint in Germany. He also has the experience of being at the helm of the Swiss and Greek men's national teams.

"The dream of every coach is to lead the men's national team," said Perkovac at his first press conference since his appointment.

Perkovac hopes to bring a new vision and order to the national team with a clear goal – return to the top five teams.

"It is bad we do not have more preparation days during the year to improve our tactics and tune in. I have a clear vision of what I want to do with the team. I know the key players and how to structure the team. It is very important that the players we gather now will be together for the next five years, with minor corrections over time. We all should have a clear goal – Croatia to be among the best again," said Perkovac.

Photo: Jozo Cabraja / kolektiff