After earning their fourth consecutive EHF EURO berth and fifth in total, Montenegro are looking to take the next step with a young squad and a promising new coach at EHF EURO 2020.
While they lost all group matches at EHF EURO 2014, 2016 and 2018 and earned just one point in 2008, the main focus will be on securing their first ever win in the competition, after 14 defeats and one draw from 15 matches.
Three questions ahead of EHF EURO 2020:
- How close is the maiden EHF EURO win for Montenegro?
Group A will see Montenegro face well-known rivals Serbia, Croatia and Belarus, ensuring there will be no lack of motivation for Zoran Roganovic’s team.
“We are hopeful of our historic first win. That is our dream. We will see what happens after that,” said Roganovic.
“Croatia are group favourites. We will try to spring a surprise against them, and fight for a good result,” the coach added. “After that, we are facing Serbia. We will be much wiser after we see the outcome of their match against Belarus.”
According to Roganovic, Belarus “will be our toughest match, as it will most likely decide who will go through”.
- Montenegro upset world champions Denmark in the qualifiers; can they spring a similar surprise at EHF EURO 2020?
“Good matches are ahead, and many surprises are possible,” said coach Roganovic. “Looking back, we were always at the peak of our strength in the opening matches. Meanwhile, Croatia tend to have a slower start to the championship, timing their form for later stages. There lies our chance.”
- What is the biggest strength Montenegro possess?
Montenegro display excellent spirit. Players feel at home with the national team, enjoying their handball, living and playing as a unit.
“We have created a strong bond between the players, the staff as well as the federation,” said Roganovic, second on the all-time scorers list for Montenegro.
“There is a long-term plan, and this is our first step. Our spirit will not be compromised, even if we fail at the EHF EURO,” he said.
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Under the spotlight: Team cohesion
Individual talent was never under question for Montenegro. But, being able to create a good team spirit and implement the right system was a daunting task for many. However, that is exactly what Roganovic has excelled at since taking over in 2018. His approach, rooted in the Scandinavian school, brought back belief and self-confidence, evident in their ability to qualify for the EHF EURO 2020.
Coach Roganovic managed to steady the ship, enduring a difficult situation upon taking over. In his initial year at the helm, the Montenegrin national team has found its identity, patiently following a well-though out plan. No matter what the results, EHF EURO 2020 is certainly going to be an important step forward for this developing team.
Belarus progressed to the main round after defeating Montenegro (29:23) in their ultimate match of the preliminary round of EHF EURO 2014. The two teams are poised to meet again in their final showdown in group A of the EHF EURO 2020. Will history repeat itself?
What the numbers say
Montenegro are coming to the EHF EURO 2020 following a trifecta of 16th places from the last three events. They are clearly hoping for an improvement, and the one to take them there is the man with number 16 on his back – goalkeeper Nebojsa Simic, widely regarded as one of the best shot-stoppers in the game. Should Montenegro win a place in the elusive main round, they will play their first match on 16 January.