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Date: 12/21/2010

He isn’t a new face on the Croatian bench, but his job is new: Slavko Goluza is the successor of coaching legend Lino Cervar, whose assistant he had been many years before. The World Championship in Sweden will be Goluza’s first big tournament in this key position. In this interview with www.ihf.info Goluza points out the objectives of his team, the key matches and figures and what it feels like to follow in the footsteps of Lino Cervar.

The last sentence of Igor Vori after the final press conference in Vienna after the lost EURO final was “Ok, then we have to win Gold in Sweden” – is the title the main objective of Croatia?
Slavko Goluza: No, I don’t think so. If you want to win a World Championship, a lot of small things have to work out for you. Our goal is to give our best, to play every match at maximum level. We can lose a match in terms of the result, but regarding combativeness we can’t. 

Denmark is one of your opponents right in the Preliminary Round – will this be the crucial game for the rest of the tournament?
Slavko Goluza: No, for us every match is important. We will go step by step, match after match. Our first one is against Romania and we have to prepare ourselves for that match.

Croatia is known for their loyal supporters. How many spectators will accompany your team in Sweden?
Slavko Goluza: We expect a lot of them. There is a big Croatian community in Malmö and I expect them to come to the halls and give us support.

What did your team learn from the lost finals in Zagreb and Vienna?
Slavko Goluza: This is sport. In each competition there are a lot of teams that have a big motivation to win. We didn’t manage to win the last two finals but Sweden is a new competition and a new motivation for our team.

Most of your players are well known faces on international stage – will there be any changes in your squad or will you count on your experienced players?
Slavko Goluza: The team will be defined by form and health condition. So for me the most important thing is that my players are not injured and that they play well. But there won’t be any bigger or significant changes in the squad.

How big are the footsteps for you after becoming the successor of Lino Cervar?
Slavko Goluza: I’m very aware of Lino’s heritage. I also know that everyone in Croatia has high expectations from me. As a player, I was always giving my best and this approach I will also have as a coach. It won’t be easy, but my goal is to try to repeat the results that Lino had with this squad.

One decisive position is the playmaker – will Ivano Balic and Domagoj Duvnjak share this position again?
Slavko Goluza: Of course. For me, the most important thing is that they stay fit. We have two great players in this position.

Vlado Sola is your goalkeeper’s coach – how important is he as a coach and as a person, especially for motivating the players?
Slavko Goluza: Vlado is a special person; I mean it in positive way. During his career he was world-famous through his style, not only during goalkeeping. Now he is my goalkeeper’s coach. I believe him, he has full autonomy in his job and I believe our goalkeepers will be in form in Sweden.

Apart from Croatia – what are your favourites for the title in Sweden?
Slavko Goluza: There will be a little bit more favourites in Sweden than usual. Today, more and more nations play quality handball. I won’t pick out any team, but I believe there are numerous teams that could take this title.

By winning Gold in Sweden your team could be the first to qualify for Olympics in London – is this a special motivation?
Slavko Goluza: This could be, of course, a big motivation for any team, also for Croatia. But as I said, we will go step by step and we will see the outcome.

What do you expect from the hosting nation Sweden – in terms of sports and organization?
Slavko Goluza: In Croatia, during the last World Championship in 2009, we managed to set those standards very high and I expect from the Swedes to maintain this level.