Do you remember what was the hottest country in Europe last year?
This year, a region stands out. OG, ECh and now, the youth came forward to claim not one, but three medals at the Mediterranean Games in Mersin. The Ex-Yugoslavian countries are on top of their game. Serbia and Montenegro are the achievers. Slovenia and Croatia have shown during this last competition of the season they may have rediscovered hope for the future.
I put together the final stats for the Mersin Games, otherwise unpublished.
The player that caught my attention is the Croatian Lana Franković (21; 1m83; LB).
During the ChL match between Krim and Podravka, Andrea Penezic was accidentally slapped by Vesna Milanovic Litre.
Kristina Franic came to check on her teammate, while Milanovic Litre stayed next to her throughout the time she was on the floor.
The two goalkeepers on court, Grubisic and Jelcic also showed their concern.
Milanovic Litre waited for Penezic to recover before leaving the court.
Itxako’s FB page announces that Mirjana Milenkovic started training in Estella, where she will be Silvia’s alternate in goal. The impressive performance of the Montenegrin players in the European Championship and Champions League has aroused the interest of important markets. On the other hand, better visibility for the Montenegrin NT players was also a factor in some choices that do not seem driven by quality performances. This is a generation nurtured over the past 5 years in the Morača Hall Sanctuary with patience and care. Therefore, handball specialists have surely kept an eye on them during the process.
Here’s a list of trasfers of Montenegrin players:
*Marija Jovanovic: Buducnost (Mne) –> Oltchim (Ro)
*Jovanka Radicevic: Buducnost (Mne) –> Gyor (Hun)
*Mirjana Milenkovic: Biseri (Mne) –> Itxako (Esp)
*Sandra Nikcevic: Podravka (Cro) –> Alcoa (Hun)
*Ana Milacic: Biseri (Mne) –> Metalurg (Mcd)
*Biljana Pavicevic: Biseri (Mne) –> Zito Prilep (Mcd)
*Jasna Toskovic: Naisa Nis (Srb) –>Bekescsaba (Hun)
Croatia’s internationals originate in the school of Podravka Koprivnica. The team reached the ChL Main Round in 2008/2009 and triumphed over Viborg (alias Cyborg, as Romanian journalist C.T. Popescu called them) in the 2009/2010 group stage. All in all, it has always been a tricky team to beat that confirmed at the 2008 European Championship by finishing 6th. I would very much like for them to do well in Brasil and I believe they have all the assets to do so.
*Andrea Penezic: Podravka (Cro) –> Krim (Slo)
*Dijana Golubic: Esbjerg (Den) –> Buducnost (Mne)
*Maja Zebic: Podravka (Cro) –> Itxako (Esp)
*Kristina Franic: Metz (Fra) –> Krim (Slo)
*Andrea Seric: Podravka (Cro) –> Krim (Slo)
*Jelena Grubisic: Lokomotiva (Cro) –>Krim (Slo)
Serbia is a nation with potential future stars, many of them with results in Youth Championships. The fact of not having a team financially strong enough to fight in the Champions League has prompted players to go abroad. Something similar is happening at the moment to Podravka and its Croatian players.
*Andrea Lekic: Krim (Slo) –> Gyor (Hun)
*Sanja Damnjanovic: Zajecar (Srb) –> Podravka (Cro)
*Jelena Zivkovic: Zajecar (Srb) –>FTC (Hun)
*Jelena Trifunovic: Jagodina (Srb) –>Metalurg (Mcd)
*Dragana Cvijic: Krim (Slo) –> Buducnost (Mne)
*Zeljka Nikolic: loaned to Biseri (Mne) –> Buducnost (Mne)
* Dijana Stevin: Zajecar (Srb) –> Buducnost (Mne)
* Katarina Krpez: Zajecar (Srb) –> Metalurg (Mcd)
Note: I have only listed the main players of the respective NTs or the players that are expected to shine in the near future. Some of previous years’ transfers (e.g. Penezic) are mentioned as part of the same logic of FYR countries foreseeable success.