After winning their first and only EHF EURO medal – silver – at the 2004 edition of the tournament at home, Slovenia waited a long time for another reason to celebrate. A period of unsuccessful qualification attempts saw them miss several major international tournaments, including Olympic Games, World Championships and EHF EUROs, from 2008 to 2014, before the team became an increasing threat.
In January 2016, on their return to the EURO, Slovenia were disappointed to exit the tournament early – after the preliminary round, finishing with a final rank of 14th. But 2016 was just beginning. Eight months later at the Olympic Games with a rejuvenated squad, Slovenia were a much stronger force.
At Rio 2016, Slovenia earned a place in the quarter-finals, where they were knocked out by gold medallists Denmark, but made a statement with their impressive form nevertheless.
In January 2017, one year after they recorded their lowest-ever EURO ranking, Slovenia celebrated a major achievement as they claimed the bronze medal at the World Championship. It was the team's first World Championship medal, and it showed they are now a serious danger with a squad full of promising young talents and a tactical mastermind coach in the form of Veselin Vujovic.
14 January: Left back Gregor Potocnik (7 internationals/7 goals) replaces Nik Henigman.
23 January: Centre back Patrik Leban (6 internationals/10 goals) replaces Jan Grebenc.
23 January: Goalkeeper Urh Kastelic (13 internationals/3 goals) replaces Urban Lesjak.
Remaining replacements Slovenia: 2 (0 in main round)
At 177cm tall, Zarabec is one of the smallest players at the EHF EURO, but is the embodiment of what a playmaker should look like. Fast, creative and always with an ace upon his sleeve, Zarabec has been one of the key players of the Slovenian team since 2015, when he was first called up, also winning the bronze medal in the World Championship 2017.
The 26-year old THW Kiel playmaker has steadily grew in the last few years, after his debut at Celje. His transfer to the German powerhouse has been greeted with a tongue-in-cheek announcement by the “Zebras”, as they were searching for a flat for Zarabec to stay in.
21-year-old Blaz Janc is one of the best young handball players in Europe. He has been a regular member of the senior national squad since 2016 and was a key player for Slovenia's younger age category teams before that.
Janc won the Youth Olympic Games gold medal in 2014 and silver at the U19 World Championship in 2015, where he was a member of the All-star Team. He has played 31 games for Slovenia and scored 108 goals, 30 of them at the World Championship in France, where he was the team's second top scorer and one of the crucial players on the path to winning the bronze.
Currently, Janc plays club handball with Champions League 2015/16 winners Kielce. Previously, he played for Celje Pivovarna Lasko (2012-17), Radece and Sevnica, a club next to his home town.
Following Slovenia's historic bronze medal at the World Championship 2017, Veselin Vujovic joined the ranks of the most successful coaches in handball. He was also a great player – selected as the first IHF World Handball Player of the Year in 1988.
Vujovic played for Lovčen, Metaloplastika, Barcelona and Granollers and has coached Lovčen, Partizan, Ciudad Real, Vardar, Al Sadd and Zagreb, as well as the Serbia and Montenegro men's national team. He is currently leading Slovenian club Koper 2013 alongside the national squad.
Vujovic was Olympic champion with Yugoslavia in 1984 and world champion in 1986. He also claimed the silver medal at the World Championship 1982 and bronze at the 1988 Olympic Games. In January 2017, he added the World Championship bronze medal as coach of Slovenia.
With Slovenia, Vujovic ranked sixth at the Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro and qualified for the EHF EURO 2018, where the team will be among the favourites for a medal.
Past Performance at EHF EURO events