Tuesday, 28 December 2021

Croatian Sport 2021: A Year in Review

December 29, 2021 - Croatian sport 2021: a look at some of the top sporting moments from Croatian athletes following the 2020 pandemic year. 

2020 was a write-off in sports, with some of the biggest competitions canceled as the Covid pandemic plagued the world. It was the year that postponed the Tokyo Olympics and EURO 2020, with no sporting event left unscathed by the threat of COVID-19. 

The desperate wait for the vaccine ended at the start of 2021, allowing a slow normalization of the life we were used to, but not without rigorous measures in place to ensure we never revisited what had come before. 

As vaccinations heightened, so did the return of sports, and the competitions we missed in 2020 filled the 2021 calendar year. As a result, athletes worldwide recorded one of their busiest years yet. 

Croatian sport 2021 - a recap of what Croatian athletes achieved this year. 

Olympics & Paralympics

The Olympic Games in Tokyo were the second most successful Olympics in Croatian history! Croatia won three gold, three silver, and two bronze medals in Tokyo, taking 26th place in the overall list of medal winners. Croatian athletes were more successful in Rio 2016, winning five gold, three silver, and two bronze medals.

Croatia won a total of eight medals in Tokyo. Gold was won by taekwondo artist Matea Jelić, the Sinković brothers in coxless pairs, and Nikola Mektić and Mate Pavić in tennis doubles (more on that below).

Silver was won by Tonči Stipanović in laser sailing, tennis doubles team Marin Čilić and Ivan Dodig, and gymnast Tin Srbić, while the bronze was won by taekwondo artist Toni Kanaet and Damir Martin in rowing singles.


Croatia was fantastic at the Paralympics, too, winning 7 medals total thanks to Velimir Šandor (silver), Ivan Katanušić (silver), Ivan Mikulić (silver), table tennis (bronze), Dino Sinovčić (bronze), Mikela Ristoski (bronze), and Deni Černi (bronze). 


What a year it was for Croatian football, with many ups, downs, and turnarounds. 

EURO 2020

The Croatia national team recorded one of the busiest years, with World Cup qualifications wrapped around the rescheduled EURO 2020.

Croatia opened Group D of the Euros in London with a loss against England, followed by a draw against the Czech Republic and a win against Scotland in Glasgow to push them through to the round of 16. 

Croatia moved from the UK to Copenhagen to face Spain in the last 16, finally in front of their beloved fans who struggled to travel to the UK due to impossible isolation and testing measures. 


Croatia was unfortunately knocked out by Spain (3:5) after an exciting extra time finish. It wasn't the result Croatia had hoped for, but it was a wake-up call for coach Zlatko Dalić to achieve exactly what Croatia did next. 

World Cup qualifications

Croatia's World Cup qualifiers did not begin on a high note in March, with a loss against Slovenia to open the group stage. While expected but narrow victories against Cyprus and Malta followed, no one was sure if this Croatia side would even have a chance at qualifying for Qatar next year. 

A 0:0 draw to Russia in September and 0:1 win against Slovakia brought some hope, though it wasn't until beating Slovenia 3:0 at home that Croatia started looking like the team we knew them to be. Croatia proceeded with wins against Cyprus, a draw against Slovakia, a blowout victory against Malta, and a crucial 1:0 win against Russia at a sold-out Poljud to qualify directly for the 2022 World Cup in Qatar in the first place! 


Before the 2022 World Cup, Croatia will play in the Nations League against France, Denmark, and Austria. 

U21 EURO in Slovenia + EURO 2023 qualifications 

It was an incredible year for the Croatia U21s, which began in March with EURO 2021 in Slovenia. 

Croatia played in Group D, losing to Portugal to open the tournament but winning against Switzerland and England for a spot in the knockout stage where Croatia lost to Spain in extra time. 

Croatia continued the year with EURO 2023 qualifications, in which they remain undefeated with 6 wins against Norway, Austria, Finland, Azerbaijan, and Estonia. 

Their qualifying journey will continue at the end of March next year when they will compete against Austria and Finland at home.

Nine group winners and the best second-placed team will qualify for the 2023 European Championships, while the remaining eight runners-up will advance to additional qualifications.

Dinamo in Europa League

It was an exciting year for Croatian champion Dinamo, who will be best remembered for a wild Europa League comeback in March against Tottenham thanks to an Oršić hattrick, securing their spot in the quarterfinal against Villareal. It was named among the competition's 10 best matches of the 2020/2021 season.


Dinamo also went strong into the 2021/22 Europe League season, finishing the group stage with a win against West Ham for second place of the group and the Europa League playoff round in the spring against Sevilla

Croatian Cup 

Not only did Dinamo go on to win the Croatian First League in the 2020/2021 season, but they also won the Croatian Cup, topping Istra 1961 6:3 in the final for the double crown.

Things are looking slightly different this season, as Dinamo was knocked out of the Croatian Cup against Rijeka - not to mention that the Croatian First League standings are closer than ever. 

In the Croatian Football Cup semifinals, Rijeka will play against Osijek at Rujevica Stadium, and Hajduk will face Gorica at Poljud.

This is a great opportunity for Hajduk, which has played 19 consecutive Cup games away. Hajduk last won the Cup in 2013, which is also the last trophy for the Split club. Therefore, Hajduk has the chance to play two home games in the Cup and a historic opportunity for their first trophy in eight years. The last time Split hosted the Cup was in March 2016 in the semifinal match against Dinamo.

The semifinal matches will be played on March 1 and 2, 2022, and the Cup final will be played on May 22 next year at Poljud Stadium in Split.


Mate Pavić and Nikola Mektić

It was an absolutely incredible year for Croatian tennis, due mainly to the success of the doubles team Mate Pavić and Nikola Mektić. Not only did these two win Wimbledon before celebrating in the historic all-Croatian doubles final at the Tokyo Olympics, but they finished the year as the best doubles team in the world! 


Marin Čilić

It wasn't a bad year for Marin, either, who reached two finals in Russia in one week. While he lost in the Moscow final to Aslan Karatsev, Čilić defeated American tennis player Taylor Fritz in the St. Petersburg Open final to win his second ATP tournament in 2021.

This was Čilić's 35th appearance in the final of an ATP tournament and the third in 2021. He won Stuttgart in June, while he lost in the Moscow final. St. Petersburg was the 20th title of his career! 

Donna Vekić

Donna did it in 2021, too. At the Courmayeur Ladies Open, the Osijek native reached her third WTA title in the ninth WTA final of her career and the first after June 2019 in Nottingham. She won in the final against 18-year-old Dane Clara Tauson.

Donna Vekić won her last of the two titles in 2017 in Nottingham. Before that, in 2014, she celebrated in Kuala Lumpur.

Petra Marčinko

Young Croatian tennis player Petra Marčinko also became the #1 junior tennis player in the world this year! The 16-year-old Croatian became the first player in history to win the most prestigious junior tournament - Orange Bowl - in both singles and doubles competitions and ended the year as the best junior in the world. 

Davis Cup 

The Croatia tennis team became the second-best in the world after Russia celebrated in the Davis Cup final in Madrid. Russia beat Croatia 2-0 in the final, winning both singles matches. After Andrey Rublev defeated Borna Gojo 6:4, 7:6 (5) in the first match, bringing Russia the first point, Daniil Medvedev, the second-best tennis player in the world, defeated Marin Čilić 7:6 (7), 6:2, thus securing the Cup for Russia. 

This year, Croatia had a brilliant Davis Cup campaign, beating Australia and Hungary in the group stage before topping Italy in the quarters and Serbia in the semifinal for a spot in the final this year. Unfortunately, in this tournament, Croatia played without one of its top tennis players - Borna Ćorić. 


Croatia thus remains on the two Davis Cup trophies. Croatia won the Cup in 2005 and 2018, and in addition to this final, they played and lost the final in 2016 (against Argentina in Zagreb).


2021, unfortunately, started with a Croatia handball fiasco and the worst placement in World Champs history for the men's side. 

The Croatia national handball team said goodbye to the World Championship in Egypt after losing to Denmark in the decisive match for the quarterfinals.


The Cowboys thus finished in 15th place, behind Russia and ahead of Switzerland. Before this World Championship in Egypt, the worst Croatian ranking at the World Championship was 13th place from the Japan tournament in 1997.

The poor result forced the resignation of coach Lino Červar, and the Federation announced that Hrvoje Horvat would fill his shoes.

While Horvat tried to revamp the team with young blood, it wasn't enough for the Olympic qualifications just two months later. Croatia handball thus failed to qualify for Tokyo and was left without the Olympic Games for the first time in the last 21 years. This last happened to Croatia in 2000 when they missed the Sydney Games.

But not all hope is lost. Croatia used 2021 to regain their footing and adapt to new systems, which will be seen on the court at the European Championships next month. 

The Croatia women's handball team didn't have the best of luck, either, and failed to advance to the World Championship quarterfinals in Spain.

Water Polo 


The Croatia men's water polo team recorded six wins and two defeats in Tokyo, finishing 5th at the Olympic Games after beating the USA 14-11 (2-3, 4-2, 4-2, 4-4) on the last day of the Games. 

Croatia achieved three victories in Group B (Kazakhstan, Serbia, Montenegro) and two defeats (Australia, Spain), taking second place in the group behind Spain.


The Croatia water polo team lost to Hungary for a spot in the semifinals of the Olympic Games.

Croatian Cup 

The Jadran Split men's team took home the Croatian Water Polo Cup for the first time!

In their third Croatian Cup final and the third against Jug, the Jadran men's team finally tasted victory. While Jug was after their 17th cup and 66th trophy, Jadran reached its 15th trophy in history, and the first cup, including the former state cup.

And the Jadran's women's team celebrated, too, returning the Croatian Cup women's trophy to Split after five years. 


Olympic Qualifiers

The Croatia men's basketball team, led by NBA star Bojan Bogdanović, failed to qualify for the Olympic Games at the qualifying tournament held in Split. 

In their two group stage games, Croatia was unimpressive, recording a tough defeat against Brazil (94:67) and a close victory over Tunisia (75:70).

Croatia and Germany met in the tournament's semifinal at Spaladium Arena, losing in the last five minutes for the final 86:76. Only the winner of the tournament qualified for the Tokyo Olympics. 

Toni Kukoč Hall of Fame Induction 

Toni Kukoč officially became an enshrined member of the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame.

The induction of the class of 2021 was held in Springfield, Massachusetts. The Split-born former basketball star was joined by other superstars - Chris Bosh, Yolanda Griffith, Lauren Jackson, Paul Pierce, Ben Wallace, and Chris Webber, and coaches, referees, and contributors Rick Adelman, Bill Russell, Jay Wright, Val Ackerman, Howard Garfinkel, Cotton Fitzsimmons, Bob Dandridge, Pearl Moore, and Clarence "Fats" Jenkins.


Kukoč was introduced to the Hall of Fame by his former team-mate, Michael Jordan, and Jerry Reinsdorf, Chicago Bulls owner, for the past 35 years.


The Sinković brothers recorded another brilliant year, winning the gold medal in coxless pairs at the European Rowing Championships in Varese. 

The celebrated pair continued their winning streak with the Olympic gold in the coxless pairs in Tokyo, securing their third Olympic medal in the third different discipline, after the silver in the quadruple sculls from London 2012 and the gold in the doubles sculls from Rio de Janeiro in 2016.


Croatian rower Damir Martin was also excellent this year, winning the bronze medal in single sculls at the Olympic Games in Tokyo. This was the third Olympic medal for 33-year-old Martin, after the silver in the quadruple sculls from London in 2012 and the silver in the singles from Rio de Janeiro in 2016.


Following the Tokyo Olympics, the International Judo Federation (IJF) announced the world’s best judokas. The current world champion and the best Croatian judoka, Barbara Matić, took the top spot in the category up to 70 kg, while Karla Prodan came 8th in the category up to 78 kg.


The best result in the performances of Croatian judokas so far at the Olympic Games (fifth place in Tokyo) helped Barbara Matić jump by seven positions and became the first name in the category up to 70 kg.

For the first time in one year, Croatian judo had two names in the Top 10 judokas. 


Sandra Perković

Croatia's best female athlete reached her 44th victory at the Diamond League in her career this year with a throw of 65.68 meters in the decisive sixth series. She surpassed the second-placed Cuban Yaime Perez by 37 centimeters, while the Olympic winner from Tokyo, American Valarie Allman, took third place with a throw of 64.51 meters.


With this victory, Perković reached Perez in the overall standings of the Diamond League discus throw. Both now have 22 points, while Allman is third with 13 points.

After a disappointing campaign in Tokyo, where she was left without a medal after two consecutive gold medals in London and Rio, Sandra came back stronger than ever. We can't wait to see what she has in store next year! 

Blanka Vlašić retires 

High jump champion Blanka Vlašić announced the end of her career this year at the age of 37.

The celebrated Croatian athlete and high jumper could no longer cope with her injuries, saying goodbye to the sport after becoming 2x outdoor world champion, winning silver at the Beijing Olympics, and bronze at the Rio Games. She has the second-best result of all time and is the Croatian record holder with a jump of 208 centimeters.


Croatian skier Filip Zubčić achieved the best slalom result of his carer, placing third in Val d'Isere at the end of the year!

After placing 6th in the first run, the Croatian skier improved his ranking at the French winter resort, finishing on the podium in third place. He was impeccable in the lower part of the track and entered the finish line as the first-place finisher.


Zubčić's best slalom ranking in the World Cup before this was fifth place.

Croatia Rally

The 2021 Croatia Rally, the first-ever in the country, was watched by more than 100 million people in more than 150 countries. 

The current and seven-time world champion Frenchman Sebastien Ogier (Toyota) won the first edition of the Croatia Rally, the third World Rally Championship, driven on the local roads of Zagreb, Karlovac, and Krapina-Zagorje counties, and the City of Zagreb. 


To read more about sport in Croatia, follow TCN’s dedicated page

Thursday, 20 February 2020

Want to Catch Bogdanovic & Co. in Split? Croatia's Olympic Qualifying Games Announced

February 20, 2020 - Croatia will open its first game of the Olympic Qualifying Basketball Tournament in Split against Brazil, and play its second game a day later against Tunisia.

FIBA has announced the schedule and times for the final basketball qualifiers for the Olympic Games, which will be played in Croatia, Canada, Lithuania and Serbia from June 23 to 28. 

Croatia will thus play its first game in Group B on June 24 at 8 pm against Brazil, and the second game on June 25 against Tunisia at 8 pm. Germany, Russia and Mexico will play in Group a. If Croatia makes it to the semifinals, they will play against the national teams in Group A on the weekend of June 27.

The qualifiers are played in four different tournaments, each with six participants, and only the winners of the tournament will qualify for the Olympics. Argentina, Australia, France, Iran, Nigeria, Spain, the United States and Japan have already qualified for the 2020 Olympics.

In addition to Split, other cities hosting the qualifying tournament are Belgrade, Kaunas and Victoria. A total of 24 nations will compete in the tournaments, with only tournament winners going to the Olympics.

"The tournament in Split is one big event and promotion not only for basketball but for the whole of Croatia. We hope for a good atmosphere and once again thank the Government of the Republic of Croatia, the City of Split and Split-Dalmatia County. We hope that the team will be complete and that everyone will be healthy and we can look forward to the Olympic Games. We are about to begin qualifying for the European Championships that await us in 2021. On Friday, we play against Sweden, after which we play with the Netherlands. These two games are extremely important for us. After that, we expect the HT Premier League championship finals, and then we are preparing for this tournament.”

All fans looking to cheer on Croatia in Split can purchase tickets from February 26 through system.hr.

“The Split tournament is, in my opinion, the most important event in Croatian sport in 2020, and the importance and weight are in the opponents, system and organization. FIBA has risen to a higher level of quality since EuroBasket in 2015. We recognized this tournament as a top event that has the opportunity to be played in Croatia. I want to take this opportunity to thank the Prime Minister and the Government of the Republic of Croatia for recognizing this. What awaits us in Split is the ultimate spectacle for all sports fans, especially basketball. Until the tournament, we will work on the animation and promotion of basketball and take this opportunity to raise basketball to another level,” said the Secretary-General of the Croatian Basketball Federation, Josip Vranković.

Qualifying for the Olympic Games and representing their country is a dream of all athletes, which guarantees that exciting basketball awaits us in Split. The Croatia national team will have a slight advantage as they will have support from the Split stands.

‘’I hope we can show a good game in front of our home crowd on Friday and win. We expect that the Drazen Petrovic hall will be packed to the last place and that together with our fans, we will have a positive atmosphere before this last Euro qualifier against the Netherlands and before the Olympic tournament in Split in June.

When we finish these games, we will start preparing for the Split tournament, talk to all the players to get ready for the summer,” said Croatian basketball team coach Veljko Mrsic.

The Tokyo Olympics will be held from July 24 to August 9. The Croatia basketball team has qualified for the Olympic Games four times, with the highest success being the silver medal in 1992. At the last Rio Olympics, Croatia took 5th place. The tournament in Split is an opportunity for all basketball lovers and fans to accompany their national teams on the road to the Olympics, but also to enjoy top-notch basketball. In addition to Split, other host cities are Belgrade, Kaunas and Victoria. A total of 24 teams will compete in the tournaments, with only the tournament winners going to the Olympics.

To read more about sport in Croatia, follow TCN's dedicated page.

Sunday, 10 November 2019

Japan Day Marked in Croatia

ZAGREB, November 10, 2019 - Japan Day was held at the Mimara Museum in Zagreb on Saturday ahead of the Olympic and Paralympic Games in Tokyo next year.

The event was organised by the Japanese Embassy and was addressed by Ambassador Misako Kaji, Croatian Olympic Committee (HOO) Chairman Zlatko Mateša and Croatian Paralympic Committee Chairman Ratko Kovacic.

Olympic contender Tin Srbić (gymnastics) and potential contenders Kristina Tomic (taekwondo) and Ana Lenard (karate) spoke about the Olympic Games, while Paralympics contenders Helena Dretar, Pavao Jozić (both table tennis) and Damir Juren (boccia) presented the Paralympic Games.

The Croatia House in Tokyo, organised on the premises of the Croatian Embassy, was presented by the HOO assistant secretary-general for marketing, Ranko Ćetković.

The event attracted great attention from members of the public, who waited in long queues to take pictures of themselves in traditional Japanese costumes, drink tea and familiarise themselves with the arts of ikebana and origami.

More news about relations between Croatia and Japan can be found in the Politics section.

Friday, 8 November 2019

Croatia Women's Volleyball Team After Second Olympic Appearance

November 8, 2019 -  The Croatia women's volleyball team must win the upcoming qualifying tournament in the Netherlands to secure their second-ever appearance at the Olympic Games.

The Croatia women's volleyball team will play in Group B of the next qualifying tournament for the Tokyo Olympics, which will be held from January 7 to 12 next year in the Netherlands. Croatia will face rivals Belgium, Germany, and Turkey, reports Gol.hr.

The tournament will be played in Apeldoorn, where the Netherlands will play against the national teams of Poland, Azerbaijan, and Bulgaria in Group A.

The two best-placed teams from both groups will advance to the semi-finals, while only the winner of this tournament will secure a spot at the Tokyo Olympics.

"This is a high-level volleyball tournament, and we all want that one spot that leads to the Olympics. It's not impossible to win it even though we are not going there as favorites. These are nominally stronger teams than us, but we have nothing to lose as anything can happen in a tournament. We will not have much time to prepare due to the club commitments of our players, but we have arranged preparations and friendly matches with Bulgaria in Sofia, so that we will prepare for the upcoming tournament as best as we can,” Croatia national team coach Daniele Santarelli said after the Olympic qualifying draw.

Croatia will open the tournament in Apeldoorn on January 8 (1 pm) against Turkey. One day later (1 pm), Croatia will play against the Belgian national team, and on January 10 (1:30 pm), they will conclude the group stage against Germany.

Italy, Serbia and Russia have already qualified for the Olympics as they topped their groups at the Intercontinental Qualifying Tournaments held in August this year. In addition, China, the United States, Brazil and Japan as the host country will also compete in Tokyo. With another European team, Africa, Asia, South America, and North and Central America will each have one representative in the Olympic Games next summer. 

The Croatia national team participated in the Olympic Games only once, back in 2000 in Sydney, where they finished seventh place. 

The Croatia women's volleyball team achieved their greatest success in 1995, 1997 and 1999 by winning silver medals at the European Championships. At the 2009 and 2013 Mediterranean Games, Croatia won the bronze medal. The first gold medal for the senior national team was won in 2016 at the World Grand Prix. In 2018, Croatia won gold at the Mediterranean Games.

To read more about sport in Croatia, follow TCN’s dedicated page

Tuesday, 29 October 2019

World Boxing Council Decision Crushes Olympic Dream for Filip Hrgovic

October 29, 2019 - A new decision by the World Boxing Council forces Croatian professional boxer Filip Hrgovic to make a tough decision about competing at the Tokyo Olympics next year. 

Gol.hr reports that Croatia's best boxer Filip Hrgovic, a bronze medalist at the Rio Olympics, dreamed of winning the gold medal next year in Tokyo. For that reason, he recently engaged former coach Leonard Pietra and specific staff in the boxing federation. 

"Next year is the qualifying tournament, in May, and this is the last qualifying tournament. The plan for me and my team is to go to that tournament and to qualify that way. There have been some misunderstandings about the attitude of the Croatian Olympic Committee and the Croatian Boxing Federation towards my team and me. I believe that this will be smoothed over and that everything will be arranged for me to participate in that tournament, to qualify and, God willing, win an Olympic medal, and even better, Olympic gold,” Hrgovic said in March this year.

But it seems like nothing may come of that in the end. Namely, official confirmation from the most famous boxing organization (World Boxing Council) has said that all professional boxers are threatened with a two-year suspension if they decide to compete at the Tokyo Olympics.

At the 57th annual WBC convention in Cancun, Mexico, the views of organization leader Mauritius Sulaiman were confirmed, announcing a decision like this at the beginning of the month.

Sulaiman believes professionals should not fight young, underdeveloped amateurs, and therefore announced a repeat of the 1975 suspensions.

‘’We are inspired by the South Africa ban that my Father did with WBC in 1975 when we supported the efforts of Nelson Mandela to combat the horrible act of discrimination. The WBC started a ban on anyone who would participate in boxing in South Africa, supporting apartheid. So that is the inspiration and the message."

Discussing the pros who choose to fight amateurs in the Tokyo Olympics, Mauricio stressed: ‘’Well they’re simply expelled from WBC activity for two years.”

Recall, Hrgovic holds the WBC "International Champion" belt, a sort of regional title, and the third-highest in the organization.

Moving to another organization, such as the WBO, WBA, and IBF, is also not a solution for Filip as they will follow WBC decisions.

This decision also effects world champion Andy Ruiz, who considered performing for Mexico in Rio. 

Hrgovic's next match is on December 7 in Riyadh, as part of the introductory program of the big rematch between Andy Ruiz Jr. and Anthony Joshua.

To read more about sport in Croatia, follow TCN’s dedicated page

Thursday, 11 April 2019

Nine Croatian Athletes Already Qualified for Tokyo 2020 Olympics

Just over a year remains until the 2020 Summer Olympic Games in Tokyo, and most Croatian athletes are just beginning their Olympic qualifiers. However, some of these concerns have already been resolved, as nine Croatian athletes have already secured their visa for Tokyo. The last among them is the current Olympic champion in trap shooting - Josip Glasnović, reports Gol.hr on April 10, 2019. 

In the embrace of his close family and friends and with a surprise tamburitza band, Josip Glasnović celebrated his gold medal at the World Cup in the United Arab Emirates back in Zagreb. 

"The qualifiers were excellent - 125 of 125, I broke or equaled the world record, where only 12 people in the world have done this, and I'm happy and honored that I won the gold," said the 2016 Rio Olympic gold medalist in trap shooting. 

But this isn’t important just because Glasnović won yet another flashy medal, but because Croatia’s current Olympic champion has qualified for the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo.

"That's really what it is about, as the Olympic Games are the Olympic Games. I again have the chance to defend the gold medal, and even though it's hard to qualify in our sport, here I am and that’s it,” said Josip Glasnović.

Glasnović has thus become the ninth member of the Croatian Olympic team in Tokyo. So far, the 2020 Olympic Games will feature Croatian athletes in air rifle shooting - Snježana Pejčić, Petar Gorša, and Miran Maričić, followed by sailor Tonči Stipanović in the Laser class and the Fantela brothers in the 49er class, and Split's young swimming sensations Franko Grgić and Marin Mogić.

Additionally, Croatia’s U21 football team could qualify for the Olympic Games for the first time if they make it to the semi-final at the upcoming U21 Euro Championship.

"I think this is a great motive for all players, I believe they are aware of that, and it would certainly mean a lot to me as a coach as well," said the U21 Croatia national team coach Nenad Gračan.

And if our young football team receives a visa for Tokyo, Gračan can invite three players to the Olympic tournament without an age restriction. Rakitić and Perišić have reportedly already shown interest. 

"Well, they expressed their wishes. Maybe Luka Modrić, too!” said Gračan. 

In the last two Games, Croatia has crushed its record for the number of Olympic medals won. In London 2012, Croatian athletes won six medals, and four years later in Rio, they nearly doubled their harvest with as many as ten. Let’s hope the trend continues in Tokyo.

To read more about sport in Croatia, follow TCN’s dedicated page