Europa Cup: Croatia Water Polo Fails to Defend Title, Takes Silver Against Hungary

By 8 April 2019

The Croatia water polo team failed to defend the Europa Cup title after losing to Hungary in the final in Zagreb 8:10 (2:2, 1:3, 2:3, 3:2), reports HRT on April 7, 2019. 

However, most important for coach Ivica Tucak is that Croatia’s semi-final victory over Spain secured the team placement in the final tournament of the World League, which will be held from June 18 to 23 in Belgrade. The winner of that tournament in Belgrade automatically qualifies for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

The “Baraccudas” played a solid game, though there were visible flaws. Hungary opened the match with a 0:2 lead, but Croatia came back to make it 3:2 with Joković’s goal at the start of the second quarter. Unfortunately, Manhercz equalized at 3:3, and when Croatia failed to utilize having an extra player in the pool, Hungary scored again for the 3:4 lead. At the half-time, Hungary was up 3:5, and in the third minute of the third quarter, Kovacs scored for 3:6.

Joković was able to reduce Hungary’s lead (4:6), though nothing could help Croatia come back, and Hungary convincingly managed to hold onto an advantage of two or three goals until the end, which ultimately gave them the 8:10 victory and the Europa Cup title.

Loren Fatović was one of the most effective in the Croatian ranks with three goals, while Maro Joković scored two, and Andro Bušlje, Ivan Buljubašić and Josip Vrlić scored one.

Peter Manhercz was the best for Hungary with three goals.

In the match for third place, Spain was better than Italy 9:7 (3:1, 0:2, 5:3, 1:1), while Montenegro defeated Serbia in the match for fifth place 16:14.

Prime Minister Andrej Plenković also attended the final match in Zagreb. 

In other Croatia water polo news, the national team has been grouped with Australia, the USA, and Kazakhstan for the World Championships, to be held from July 14 to 27 in South Korea. The draw for the tournament was held on Sunday at the Westin hotel in Zagreb. 

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