Home sweet home: Montenegro dare to dream big

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EHF / Danijela Vekić

Montenegro await their seventh consecutive participation at the EHF EURO since the country’s independence in 2006. Ten years after winning the gold medal in the 2012 edition, Montenegro hope playing on home court will be an additional boost.

Montenegro have not missed a major champion since 2010, playing at six EHF EURO events, six IHF World Championships, and three Olympics – however, without repeating their 2012 success. With legendary player Bojana Popovic at the helm, the team has a good base going into the EHF EURO 2022.

Three questions ahead of the Women’s EHF EURO 2022:

- How far can Montenegro go at the EHF EURO?

At the EHF EURO 2018, they ended up in ninth place, two years later in eighth. So, can Montenegro this time leap forward and reach one of the top three spots in the main round and secure their best placement since 2014?

Everything is possible if head coach Bojana Popovic will have all players ready for the start of the competition. Popovic was an assistant coach to Kim Rasmussen at the last EHF EURO, the Danish coach who came as the last-minute replacement for Per Johansson. Popovic took over the team in 2021 and now has two major tournaments in her books. More steady times for Montenegro with clear goals and style of play can give fans hope for a good result.

Since the last EHF EURO in 2020, two players have retired from the team: 2018 All-star left wing Majda Mehmedovic and right-wing Andrea Klikovac. Also, Dijana Mugosa and Anastaija Babovic will miss the competition due to injuries but the main structure of the team is intact.

Montenegro will play against Spain in the first match of the preliminary round, followed by matches against Germany and Poland – all on their home court of the Moraca Hall in Podgorica. If Montenegro advance, they will continue their journey in the main round in Skopje, with Ljubljana as the coveted final destination.

“We are opening the EHF EURO against Spain, a top quality team. German women’s handball is raising and they showed that in matches against France. Poland are a known opponent, having experience in playing many EHF EURO matches. It will be interesting. We are playing at home and I believe fans will be our additional support in our effort to win all three matches,” says Montenegrin goalkeeper Marina Rajcic, back at an EHF EURO after missing the 2020 edition due for maternity leave.



- What are the expectations?

Montenegro on paper are stronger than at the last two major tournaments, especially in back court positions which are also a crucial part of the defence. Montenegro have been part of all major competitions since 2010 and there are always high expectations in the country when it comes to women’s handball.

To get back to strong matches and a potential fight for the medals, you need to play your best handball in every match on the way. If Montenegro will have all important players ready for the tournament and manage to pull off their best on the court, they might not be far off.

“We had a good national team week at the end of September. We have seen a few players that were not with us in the last year, and it is good to see all of them playing on a good level. My wish is to welcome the start of the EHF EURO without any injuries, as they were one of our problems, and be ready to face tough opponents in the group,” says head coach Bojana Popovic.

- Who are the key players in the team?

Three key players for the team are Jovanka Radicevic, Milena Raicevic and Marina Rajcic who bring the experience of major tournaments and crucial matches to the team. After missing out on the 2021 IHF World Championship, Djurdjina Jaukovic is back from her knee injury and will be of great value to the team.

Montenegro have a good balance of players with important minutes in the EHF Champions League with Buducnost BEMAX and experienced ones playing with Brest Bretagne Handball, Krim Mercator Ljubljana, Siófok KC, and CSM Bucuresti. If everyone is ready for the start of the EHF EURO 2022, Montenegro can surprise anyone.

Plays with heart: Jovanka Radicevic

The team captain is an inspiration for all. The EHF EURO 2020 All-star right wing has been part of the successful 2012 Montenegro squad, winning silver at the Olympic Games and gold at the EHF EURO. With more than 185 caps for the national team, she is a crucial link on the court when it comes to scoring and experience. Her influence is well known outside the court, too.

This will be her sixth EHF EURO appearance. The Montenegrin star in the last decade played 35 EHF EURO matches and scored 171 goals, making her the team’s all-time top scorer and player with the biggest number of matches played.

Did you know?

Head coach Bojana Popovic and assistant coach Maja Savic were part of Montenegro’s team at the Olympic Games 2012 in London. After celebrating the silver medal, both retired from the team – which still took EHF EURO gold four months later. Three players from the EHF EURO 2012 squad are still playing for the national team: Marina Rajcic, Jovanka Radicevic and Milena Raicevic.

What the numbers say?

10 – 2022 marks the 10-year anniversary of Montenegro’s biggest success in women’s handball. In front of 10,000 fans in the stands in the Belgrade Arena, Montenegro defeated Norway 34:31 after double extra time in a repeat of the Olympic final earlier that year. The result ended the eight-year-long dominance of Norway in European women’s handball.

Past achievements:

EHF EURO participations (including 2022): 7
Winners (1): 2012
Semi-finals (1): 2014

IHF World Championship:
Fifth (1): 2019

Olympic Games:
Final (1): 2012

Montenegro play against Spain, Germany, and Poland in preliminary round group D in Podgorica. Tickets available HERE.

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