Balic and Karabatic teammates?

There are some interesting developments and rumors in the Croatian handball. It is well known that the dominating club on the men’s side, Croatia Osiguranje Zagreb, is undergoing a form of ‘restructuring’, in terms of ownership and status. This naturally is combined with increased ambitions regarding the club’s strength and status on the European scene. One key objective is then obviously to hold on to Ivano Balic beyond his current contract. He is assumed to like the idea of finishing his career at home in Croatia, but someone of his caliber will always be sought after by other wealthy clubs.

But the real ‘coup’ would be if the rumors are true that the club also endeavors to try to sign up Nikola Karabatic next season. The mere thought of a Balic-Karabatic combination at the club level is obviously very intriguing. That would surely create a serious obstacle for the German-Spanish domination in the Champions League. Of course, many observer if the notion of having these strong rivals and handball personalities on the same team is not just a bit too explosive and risky. Would they really be compatible and how would it affect the team’s cohesiveness?

One of the dominating personalities in Croatian handball during recent decades has clearly been Zoran Gobac. He has just resigned from his position as Chairman of C.O. Zagreb, and he has also announced that he will leave his key position in the Croatian Handball Federation next year. From my observations during my IHF period, Gobac has had a great and positive influence on the status of handball in Croatia. He would surely be leaving on a positive note, if the developments described above were to materialize.

Finally, another key figure in Croatian handball, Lino Cervar, continues be a person in the spotlight. After his many years of great successes, but also some degree of controversy, as the coach of the Croatian national team, he is currently coaching the Macedonian top club team Metalurg Skopje. The desire of the Macedonian Federation has been to get Cervar to extend his services also to the men’s national team. It seems, however, that this will not happen, as the wealthy sponsors of Metalurg frown at the idea of supporting in this a national team that apparently is not enjoying any kind of serious backing from the Macedonian government and its sports authorities.