The Slovenia Times

Slovenia Defending Fourth Place at Handball Worlds


Head coach Boris Denić is dealing with injuries to some of the key players, but is not making any excuses. "Our main goal remains unchanged, we want to secure a berth for the qualifying tournament leading to the Rio de Janeiro Summer Olympics," he told the press ahead of the departure for Qatar.

As part of training camp, Slovenia hosted a mini tournament in Celje in late December, also featuring World Championship teams Egypt and Algeria. The hosts beat both opponents by a comfortable margin.

This was followed by a strong tournament in Denmark between 9 and 11 January, at which a short-handed Slovenia lost to Sweden and drew with Iceland.

Slovenia will open the world championship (15 January-1 February) on Friday against Chile, followed by matches against Belarus (17 January), host nation Qatar (19 January), Brazil (21 January) and reigning world champions Spain (23 January).

Top four teams from each of the four groups will qualify for the elimination round of 16. Slovenia's group A will cross with group B featuring Croatia, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Macedonia, Austria, Tunisia and Iran.

Slovenia will defend fourth place from Spain two years ago, the best result at world championships in the six appearances so far. "I will boldly predict a quarter-finals berth," veteran right winger Dragan Gajić has announced.

Despite the injury bug, Slovenia is not hiding the ambition to make it to another Olympic tournament, after Sydney in 2000 and Athens in 2004. An appearance in the quarter-finals would secure Slovenia a place in the qualifying tournament for the Rio games.

Apart from sports, the tournament in Qatar will also be an opportunity for Slovenia to promote its economy and economic cooperation with the host nation and other interested countries.

A promotional centre will be set up between 16 and 19 January in Ritz Carlton Hotel in Doha by the Slovenian Foreign Ministry, the Chamber of Commerce and Industry and the national investment promotion agency SPIRIT.

During the tournament, Slovenian President Borut Pahor and Foreign Minister Karl Erjavec will visit Qatar.

Slovenian pop singer Alya will meanwhile join her colleagues from the remaining 23 participating nations in singing the anthem of the tournament at the opening ceremony.

Slovenia's roster for the World Handball Championship 2015:
- goalkeepers: Gorazd Škof (Nantes), Primož Prošt (Göppingen) and Matevž Skok (Celje Pivovarna Laško);
- flanks: Luka Žvižej (Celje Pivovarna Laško), David Špiler (Meshkov Brest), Dragan Gajić and Vid Kavtičnik (both Montpellier);
- backs: Klemen Cehte (Payd D'Aix), Marko Bezjak, Jure Natek (both Magdeburg), Miladin Kozlina (Minden), Dean Bombač (Pick Szeged), Uroš Zorman (Vive Targi Kielce), Sebastian Skube (Björringbro-Silkeborg), Jure Dolenec (Montpellier) and David Miklavčič (Celje Pivovarna Laško);
- centres: Miha Žvižej (Toulouse), Matej Gaber (Montpellier), Uroš Bundalo (Tremblay) and Blaž Blagotinšek (Celje Pivovarna Laško).


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