Debrecen – The Slovenian men’s handball team lost 32:33 to Montenegro to end their European Championship campaign in the group stage in Hungary’s Debrecen on Monday, placing third in Group A.
After winning against North Macedonia (27:25) and losing against world champions Denmark (23:34) in the first two rounds, Slovenia would need to win today’s match to advance to the main round.
The Slovenian team’s performance was rather poor throughout, as the handball players made too many mistakes in key moments in defence and attacks and missed the last three seven-metre shots to end up without the planned victory.
“It’s hard to find the right words, today we simply embarrassed ourselves. In the first half-time our play was still acceptable, but in the the second-half …,” said Gašper Marguč. He believes the team disappointed themselves and the fans, “but the truth is that we were not ourselves at any of the games we played at this tournament”.
This view echoed by his teammate Jure Dolenec, who added: “The defeat is extremely painful. Today I had one of the biggest disappointments of my career as a member of the national team.” He said that “we’ll have to thoroughly think it over and see how to go on”.
This is the second time that Slovenia failed to advance to the main round of the European men’s handball championships after, the first time in Poland in 2016.
The team opened its 13th appearance at the European championship last week without announcing any major results, after placing 9th at the World Championship in Egypt in 2021 and failing to qualify for the Tokyo Olympics.
The team’s best result so far is the silver medal from 2004, with its second-best result coming at the previous tournament in 2020 when it finished fourth.