16 Jan. 2019
A fully-rotated Croatian side, with one eye on their top-of-the-table clash against Spain tomorrow, eased past Bahrain today to keep a 100% record in Munich.
Croatia vs Bahrain 32:20 (19:9)
Lino Cervar’s Croatia continued their winning run in Munich, easily beating Bahrain by 12 goals (32:20) to make it four wins out of four at Germany/Denmark 2019 ahead of their final preliminary round match tomorrow, against European champions Spain.
But they did it without key players as Cervar fully rotated his squad - captain Domagoj Duvnjak, Luka Stepancic, Igor Karacic, Zeljko Musa and goalkeeper Marin Sego all sat for the whole 60 minutes on the bench, while Zlatko Horvat made a brief appearance from the sidelines.
The star performer for Croatia was Manuel Strlek, who scored 11 times as the Bahrain defence was breached time and time again – but the Asian side were also rotating their side ahead of their clash against continental rivals Japan tomorrow.
Second-choice goalkeeper Ali Khamis, along with 20-year-olds Ahmed Jalal and Abdulla Yaseen all featured as Bahrain coach Aron Kristjansson gave his whole squad court time, but Croatia had already down their job by half-time, going in 10 goals up (19:9) – with Bahrain not opening their account until the fifth minute through Ali Merza.
The second period was better for the Asian side, who scored 11 times to keep in touch with the Europeans, but the damage had already been done.
“We wanted to use this game to give some minutes to our younger players and our second goalkeeper,” said Kristjansson after the match. “Tomorrow is our ‘small final’ as we play Japan and [even though] we did not have so many saves in the first half today, our second half performance was better, especially our 5-1 defence.”
Best player of the match Manuel Strlek was also looking forward to Croatia’s mini-final tomorrow, against Spain. “We had a good rotation today, but now we must concentrate now on Spain,” said the Veszprem player. “We are playing for four points to take into the second round and it will be an interesting game.”
hummel Best Player of the Match: Manuel STRLEK (CRO)