There was a big sigh of relief from Croatia fans once Domagoj Duvnjak confirmed he was fit for the EHF EURO 2018, after he came back from a knee injury.
The eight-month injury lay-off saw Duvnjak in a race against time for fitness, but the star centre back was deemed ready to play before the game against Serbia. Team captain Duvnjak enjoyed a bright game in defence, and also scored twice while leading his team to a 32:22 win against Serbia.
But with four minutes to go, when Croatia boasted a seven-goal lead, the raucous Croatians fans all stopped as Duvnjak grabbed his right leg and called the team’s doctor. It was not a recurrence of the previous injury to the left knee, but Duvnjak was in for another injury setback.
“It was unfortunate, because we just wanted to make a change and take Domagoj out before that attack. But the noise was deafening, and we simply did not manage to do it,” said Croatia coach Lino Cervar after the game.
Cervar to make a replacement
After he underwent an ultrasound and an MRI on Saturday, Duvnjak was deemed unfit to play the next two games of the preliminary round against Sweden and Iceland. The THW Kiel player has a muscular injury in the right leg, but has already started rehabilitation and is aiming to return later in the competition.
“Domagoj will certainly be out for the preliminary round and we will call up another player to replace him for the next two games,” said Cervar.
Croatia later announced that right back Denis Buntic will replace captain Duvnjak on their list of 16, using their first of six player changes allowed at the EURO.