STA, 25 January 2020 - The Slovenian men's handball team finished fourth at the European Championship after losing to Norway 20:28 in the third-place match in Stockholm on Saturday, in what is the second-best result for Slovenia ever at such tournaments.
Slovenia did not manage to bounce back from yesterday's semi-final match against Spain (32:34), while the Norwegians celebrated after a painful loss to Croatia in the last seconds of the other semi-final.
It was a sloppy and slow affair in the first half, with Norway making a run by the 20th minute to secure a four-goal lead, and never looked back thereafter. They did not let Slovenia to come close, also with help from some stellar goalkeeping.
Slovenian head coach Ljubomir Vranješ, who took over the team only a month ago, said that the player had done a tremendous job at the tournament but "it is not enough", adding that the whole tournament had been difficult.
Captain Vid Kavtičnik, who did not play in the match due to injury, said that "of course we are sad, but still, the fourth place is amazing," noting that the team did not have much time to prepare for the tournament.
Borut Mačkovšek said that the team would continue to work hard, and Jure Dolenec said that "we should be proud of what we have done at this major competition," adding that Slovenia had been in a very bad place only six months ago.
The fourth place is actually the second-best results for Slovenia at the European championships, coming after the national won silver medal at home in 2004.
While Slovenia have failed to win a medal, they have secured a berth in an Olympic qualifying tournament hosted by Berlin, Germany between 17 and 19 April.
At the tournament Slovenia will play against Germany, Sweden and an African national team, with the top two teams making it to the 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo.
As for the qualifications, Vranješ said that the team would be prepared tactically by March and then a training camp would be scheduled.