In the last two rounds of the EHF EURO qualifications several hot clashes were played to decide which national teams would progress to the next continental event in the Netherlands. One of the hottest duels was Croatia meeting Denmark.
With great motivation and will, and thanks to their super defence, the east Europeans celebrated victories both home and away, so coach Vladimir Canjuga's team has earned an EHF EURO berth already after four rounds.
In an exclusive interview with ehf-euro.com Croatia's right winger Anita Gaće talks about the games against their Scandinavian counterpart and she also tells us about her side's chances at the Qualification Tournament for the Olympic Games in London.
ehf-euro.com: In Rounds 3 and 4 of the EHF EURO qualifications you played twice against Denmark and you won both matches. What are your memories of those two games?
Anita Gaće: I feel very happy about the victories. I wouldn´t say that we didn´t expect to defeat the Danes. Certainly we were hoping to beat the Scandinavians on home turf, but as we were well focused in our away match we secured another win.
ehf-euro.com: How was it to play in Rijeka´s new arena?
Anita Gaće: The Arena is beautiful and it was filled with thousands of spectators, to maximum capacity. We played an extraordinary first period, especially in defence, and we kept the lead in the second half to celebrate a deserved victory.
ehf-euro.com: The spectators really pushed your side with maximum effort. Did you enjoy the atmosphere in Rijeka?
Anita Gaće: They created a fantastic atmosphere, and several supporters came to see, and cheer for, our gifted prospect on the line, Katarina Ježić, who was born in the city. They did a good job!
ehf-euro.com: In the last few years you lost your games against Denmark. Has it been a kind of revenge to beat them? What were the keys for the victory?
Anita Gaće: I wouldn´t say we played for revenge. They´re the same good team that we faced at the World Championship in Brazil, and there, we lost.
We were aiming for a victory at home and our defence made the big difference. We stood rock-solid on the defensive line and were able to start several counter attacks.
ehf-euro.com: Next up is Olympic Qualification for Croatia, where you´ll meet hosting country Spain, and also the Netherlands.
Anita Gaće: At home Spain are the favourites, so our best chance is to defeat the Netherlands. I don´t want to say that we have no chance against the Iberians, but we can beat the Dutch team - we really want to be at the Olympic Games!
Participation in London 2012 would give another good chance for our generation to show itself.