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Date: 10/12/2018

Going into the last round of main round matches, there was one space left in the womens competition last four and a shot at an Olympic medal.

Croatia knew they had to win against Paraguay in their last main round match to confirm their place, no matter what happened in their nearest rivals match Chinese Taipei.

And, in the first-ever beach handball Olympic Games match to be broadcast live on the Olympic Channel, they put their place in semi-finals in no doubt, winning 2:0 (12:8, 18:16).

The feeling is amazing, its the first time we are in a semi-final ever [in any competition], were so happy, said Croatia specialist Vanja Perencevic to IHF.info straight after the match. I dont know what to say, but the feeling is amazing.

The key was our goalkeeper Petra Lovrencevic and our defence as a whole - our attack wasnt so good today, but it doesnt matter as were through.

Her coach Iva Kanjugovic was in no doubt what was the key to the victory. We won because of our strong character they decided to win, she said. After losing against Netherlands, unfortunately, in a shoot-out yesterday and then Argentina we got a little down emotionally but theyre very strong girls in their heads and this is the biggest reason that they want to win every game now and it applied today against Paraguay.

Now, Croatia have two games to look forward to a semi-final tomorrow and then medal match, but coach Kanjugovic wants her to forget about handball for a while.

Its been a very emotional day already today, so I will let them enjoy this, she said. This afternoon I want them to be with one another, to be calm, concentrated and for them to not talk about handball or beach handball they can talk about the weather or something else. They must enjoy every victory, so it is our plan to enjoy.

Now, results are most important, she continued. In the evening we will start preparing when we know who we will play, and my opinion is - and I will try and make it their opinion too is that they just need to play and not be stressed in the next match because if they are then they will not be able to concentrate.

For her player Lovrencevic, she is already thinking about the chance to win a medal and is confident in the form of her team to see them through.

Every game is a new game of course, but weve prepared for this for two months and we have the best feeling for this competition, we are in the best form and we think we can take a medal, she said.

When I started playing I didnt believe I would play in an Olympic Games but now we have to think about the medal matches because both games now will be tough. We have to prepare in our heads and physically and thats it.

With their game the first beach handball match to be broadcast on the Olympic Channel, Croatias players know they have many people supporting and following them, if not right in the court with them in South America.

We need their support back home, said Perencevic. Our parents are watching on TV and we knew they would be nervous but when I turn my phone on now I am sure Ill have a lot of messages.

It doesnt matter if they are supporting us on TV, internet or phone, added Kanjugovic. We can feel they are with us, so we will play the games thinking of them.