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2019 Men’s World Championship 2019 Men’s World Championship
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Date: 7/14/2018

Men’s Group A
Croatia, Iran, Uruguay, Argentina

The reigning IHF Men’s Beach Handball World Championship holders Croatia go into Kazan 2018 having won gold at Budapest 2016, completing their steady progress since their bronze medal in 2012 and silver in the following edition in 2014.

Alongside the Brazilian men’s and women’s teams, Croatia are the only team to have appeared in all seven previous editions of the IHF Beach Handball World Championships since the debut edition in Egypt in 2004 and it was the Brazil team they beat in Budapest 2-0 to claim the world title.

The Croatian men also won the title back in Spain in 2008 and will relish the chance of playing against Iran, Uruguay and Argentina, who, between them have only appeared in six championships. Croatia can boast a team led by their captain, and Budapest 2016 MVP, Ivan Juric, who also was named as best left wing in the All-Star Team. The 31-year-old has been in the national team since 2007 and won 13 medals.

However, 2017 was not a vintage year as, on home sand in Zagreb, Croatia could only grab bronze in the Men’s EHF EURO Beach Handball Championship, and the following month, in July 2017, a 2-1 final loss at the 2017 Games against Brazil meant no gold medals and perhaps further motivation to retain their title.

Croatia men’s team won four consecutive European titles (2009, 2011, 2013 and 2015) making it the most successful European beach handball team, while on the world stage it is right after Brazil with two world titles.

"Our expectations for Kazan are probably the same like all other national selections," said Croatia Head Coach 
Mladen Paradzik. "At this moment you have a lot of great teams from all over the world that are serious and dream to win the championship.

"The best thing of all, comparing to indoor handball, opponents from all continents are highly competitive as besides our team, I expect that Brazil, Qatar, and other European countries - Spain and Russia among others - will be some of the most dangerous teams.

"Our personal aim is to have players who gave the best from themselves during the tournament," he continued. "That is the first goal, and we are sure that if the first goal will be fully accomplished, that the result will be great also."

Croatia qualified for Kazan 2018 as reigning IHF Men's Beach Handball World Champions.

Follow Croatian beach handball on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, YouTube and their website.

Asian side Iran have one solitary appearance at the IHF Men’s Beach Handball World Championships previously, back in Spain in 2008, where they finished 11th out of 12 teams thanks to their 11/12 Placement Match 2-0 victory over Libya – their only other win came against Uruguay in the group stages (2-0).

Iran confirmed their place in Kazan thanks to a bronze medal at the 6th Asian Men’s and Women’s Beach Handball Championships which took place at the beach resort of Pattaya in Thailand in May 2017. Iran beat Vietnam 2-1 thanks to an 8:6 penalty shot win to book their ticket to Russia.

In the group stages, Iran beat Afghanistan, United Arab Emirates and Thailand 2-0, but lost to Vietnam 2-1, another 2-1 loss, in the semi-finals, against Oman saw their dream of gold disappear but they managed to come back against Vietnam to grab a podium spot.

Iran visited Oman in June as part of their preparation for Kazan 2018, beating the host nation in their first two friendly games before losing the third.

Having appeared in four editions of the World Championship, the men’s team of Uruguay have been consistently around the top 10, with ninth place their highest finish (2008 and 2010). At Budapest 2016, they finished 10th but an impressive runners-up spot to Brazil at the 2018 Pan-American Beach Handball Championship in the USA earlier this year confirmed their ticket to Kazan.

Despite meeting the traditional powerhouse of Brazil in the final, it went all the way as a spirited performance saw Uruguay win the first set 17:16 but feel the wrath of Brazil in the second set, losing 24:6. The shoot-out was one-sided too as Brazil won 5:2 to take the game 2-1.

Uruguay lost all three of their group games at the 2017 World Games in Poland (vs Qatar, Brazil and Australia) as well as their quarter-final (against Hungary), but manged to beat the hosts and Australia in the 5-8 placement round to finish fifth.

Coach Gastón Balletto, who has been in charge of the team since 2010 is well-experienced having led his team to the past five Pan American championships and three World Championships. He can rely on key players Santiago Rodriguez (centre) and Andrés Miranda (left) – who was the second top scorer in the USA on 71 points – as he looks to use his wide-range of knowledge.

Also coaching the indoor men’s and women’s teams of Club Malvin, he was a handball player for 38 years, winning the Uruguay championship nine times and playing for the men’s national (indoor) team for 12 years and beach time for 10 years. He also has the rare honour of having coached national handball teams in three disciplines – having overseen the men’s ‘Snow Handball’ team.

Follow the Uruguay team on their official federation website, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

A 10th-place finish in 2014 is the only time the Argentina men’s team have appeared in the IHF Beach Handball World Championship and they approach Kazan 2018 with optimism.

Led by Technical Director Rodrigo Cleppe, Argentina have been training hard and will face familiar foes Uruguay in Russia.

"If we are 100% we can fight anyone," said Cleppe ahead of the tournament. “We want to improve our 10th position from 2014 in Recife.”

To qualify for Kazan 2018, Argentina finished fourth at the 2018 Pan American Men’s Beach Handball Championship, held in the USA in March. In the Preliminary Round they beat Puerto Rico 2-0, Mexico 2-0 and lost to USA 2-1. These results meant they faced Paraguay in the quarter-finals and in a tense match, they eventually won, via a shoot-out 2-1 (18:22) (20:17) [SO 7:4].

But the semi-finals proved to be a step too far as they were easily beaten by the dominant Brazilians (2-0) and the following day they succumbed to hosts USA 2-0, losing the first set 24:14 and the second set 17:14.

Follow the Argentina team Facebook and Twitter.

Photos: Croatian Handball Federation, I.R. Iran Handball Federation, IHF, Argentina Handball Federation