Tuesday, 5 April 2022

HNS Chooses New Croatia World Cup Camp in Doha

April 5, 2022 - The Croatia World Cup camp in Doha has been changed from the Dusit Hotel to the Hilton Doha Hotel. The final contract should be signed by April 30.

The Croatian Football Federation used the opportunity to change its priority option for the Croatia national team base camp during this year's World Cup in Qatar. Thus, the Vatreni will stay at the Hilton Doha during the tournament, announced HNS.

After the right to book the Hilton Doha hotel was lost by one of the national teams that failed to qualify for the final tournament, HNS reacted quickly and changed its priority from the Dusit Hotel to the Hilton Doha Hotel.

Attached to the Hilton Hotel is the Al Ersal 3 training center, identical to the Al Ersal 2 training center where the national team trained during its stay at the friendly tournament in Doha. Superior conditions in the training center compared to the Dusit Hotel's Al Gharafa center are crucial factors for changing the camp. In addition, Hilton Doha is one of only five hotels among the 40 offered in the Fifa catalog, which has its own beach and a pleasant outdoor environment. 

"Dusit is an excellent hotel that met all our conditions, but when the opportunity arose to book this camp, we reacted quickly, made an inspection visit, and quickly agreed on everything with the coach and captain who supported the change. The main advantage is a training center that is much closer to the hotel and has better conditions for players. That was our priority in the selection," said the president of HNS, Marijan Kustić.

"The Federation reacted brilliantly in less than 24 hours, as soon as the chance arose to enter the Hilton. Dusit is a great hotel, but here we have an objectively much better training center, which we met during this tournament and will provide us with perfect working conditions. In addition, players will be much more comfortable when they can drink coffee and socialize in the fresh air during the day, which is much more difficult in classic city hotels like Dusit. As FIFA has provided only five hotels for this profile, we are very pleased to have booked one. This is a great victory for the Croatian delegation, and I congratulate the management and the team from the HNS administration on the work done," said coach Zlatko Dalic.

HNS thus now has a secured priority option at the Hilton Doha / Al Ersal 3 camp, and the final contract should be signed by April 30, the deadline for all national teams to change their base camp.

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

Monday, 28 March 2022

HNS Chooses Croatia Camp in Qatar for 2022 World Cup

March 28, 2022 - The Croatia camp in Qatar for the 2022 World Cup has been chosen by the Croatian Football Federation. 

The Croatian Football Federation delegation visited the Dusit Hotel and the Al Gharafa Training Center, which are the first option for the Croatia national team base camp during the FIFA World Cup, held in Qatar at the end of the year, reports HNS.

Last July, the Federation's technical delegation visited a dozen potential base camps offered by FIFA in its catalog, each consisting of a hotel and a connected training center. After a detailed report to President Marijan Kustić, the leadership of the Federation and the expert staff headed by coach Zlatko Dalić chose the Dusit Hotel and Al Gharafa Training Center as its first option in Fifa's camp reservation system.

The friendly tournament in Doha was used for another visit to the hotel and training center, and the Federation was once again convinced of the excellent conditions provided by the hotel and training center. Even though several other national teams are waiting in line for the mentioned base camp, HNS has the right to "buy first" or sign a contract until June this year.

"We have moved away from our activities so far, and we looked at the camps before placing in the big competition because we are not superstitious and believe in our team. This allowed us to choose one of the better hotels and camps and now we are convinced that we made the best choice. We must provide the national team with the best conditions, and that is why I am proud of the quality logistics and administration we have in the Federation. Ultimately, it is only appropriate that the World Cup finalists have one of the best camps in Doha," said the president of the Federation, Marijan Kustić.

“I have complete confidence in our logistics, from team manager Iva Olivari onwards, and as we have always had great hotels and grounds, I am sure it will be the same in Doha. Staying here was great for us to acclimatize and get acquainted with the conditions that await us at the World Cup, and it is good that we resolved the issue of the base camp in time not to think about it at the last minute. Thanks to President Kustić and the Federation's leadership for giving maximum support to the national team in all matters, including the choice of base camp," said the selector Zlatko Dalić.

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

Sunday, 20 March 2022

Mile Škorić and Nikola Moro to Join Croatia National Team at Doha Tournament

March 20, 2022 - Croatia national team coach Zlatko Dalić has called up Osijek defender Mile Škorić and Dinamo Moscow midfielder Nikola Moro to the upcoming friendly matches against Slovenia and Bulgaria in Qatar.

The Croatia national football team will play two friendly matches later this month in Qatar, the host of the 2022 World Cup. The first match is scheduled for Saturday, March 26 at 3 pm against Slovenia. The second match will be played against Bulgaria on Tuesday, March 29 at 4 pm, both at the Education City Stadium in Doha.

These will be the first Croatia national team matches after qualifying for the 2022 World Cup and will serve as preparation for coach Zlatko Dalić and what awaits the team for the rest of the year. This tournament also serves as excellent preparation for the World Cup in Qatar, as the climate and stadiums will be tested. As far as tactics are concerned, Dalić will also test a new formation with three in the backline as there will be no room to experiment in the four Nations League matches in June.

"We'll try a new system with three in the back and we'll see how it works. We'll stick to our tactics so far, but now we have some training, so we will try something different," said Dalić ahead of the tournament. 

"We've tried putting three players in the back a couple of times, but now we have time and we want to try that system. Several of our players play it in their clubs and it could fit."

Dalić subsequently added two players from the reserves list, namely Mile Škorić from Osijek and Nikola Moro from Dinamo Moscow for the friendly matches against Slovenia and Bulgaria. Osijek defender Mile Škorić will join the national team at a gathering in Zagreb on Monday (March 21), while Dinamo Moscow midfielder Nikola Moro will arrive in Doha, where the 2018 World Cup finalists will arrive on Tuesday.

Source: HNS

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

Wednesday, 2 February 2022

Croatia to Play in Doha Friendly Tournament this March as 2022 World Cup Prep

February 2, 2022 - The Croatia national team will participate in a Doha friendly tournament next month as preparation for the 2022 World Cup in Qatar this December. 

The Croatian Football Federation management has agreed that the Croatia national team will play a friendly tournament in Qatar in March. Croatia will play two matches in Doha, reports HNS.

Croatia will face Slovenia on March 26 and will play Bulgaria three days later. The national team of Qatar will also play in the tournament, against Bulgaria (March 26) and Slovenia (March 29). The matches will be played at the stadiums in Doha where the FIFA World Cup matches will be played. The exact timetables and stadiums will be defined later, and HNS will inform fans in a timely manner about the possibilities of buying tickets.

"We wanted to play in Doha in March, so I thank the leadership of the Federation for agreeing to participate in this tournament - it will be a great opportunity to get to know Qatar and feel the conditions that await us - climate, infrastructure, culture.

I think the opponents are tailor-made, two quality teams that will be a good test for what awaits us next. First of all, we are looking forward to the gathering, to continue to build a community that will be key to success in the competitions that await us later in the year," said the Croatia national team coach, Zlatko Dalić.

"We are glad that we have reached an agreement on participating in this tournament in Doha, given the desire of the coach Dalić and the national team to play in Qatar, so that we can acclimatize to everything that awaits us at the end of the year. The most important thing is that our direct placement in Qatar has enabled us a peaceful year in which we can prepare well for the World Cup, and participating in this tournament will be an important step in that direction," said HNS President Marijan Kustić.

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

Monday, 22 November 2021

2022 World Cup Costs: How Much Will Croatia Fans Spend in Qatar?

November 22, 2021 - Now that Croatia has qualified for Qatar and we can start making rough plans for next year, what are the 2022 World Cup costs for Croatia fans in Qatar? 

We are one year away from the 2022 World Cup. It will be opened by the host Qatar in the 1st round Group A match on November 21, 2022, starting at 1 pm local time, or 11 am Croatian time, at Al Bayt Stadium.

Four matches will be played every day in the competition's group stage at 11:00, 14:00, 17:00, and 20:00 Croatian time in the first two rounds, and at 16:00 and 20:00 in the third round when teams from the same group will play at the same time. The final is scheduled for December 18 at 16:00 at Lusail Iconic Stadium.

Croatia will play in its sixth World Cup, and since its debut in France in 1998, it missed only South Africa in 2010. Croatia became the seventh national team to qualify for the World Cup and did so earlier than ever. Qatar, Germany, Denmark, Brazil, France, Belgium, Spain, Serbia, England, Switzerland, the Netherlands, and Argentina have also qualified. So far, only 13 national teams are known. The remaining national teams will be learned in January, February, March, and June.

Asia has four more rounds in their two qualifying groups. The top teams leading to a spot in Qatar are Iran, South Korea, Saudi Arabia, and Japan, while the third-placed teams (the winners play each other and the winner goes to the intercontinental playoffs) are the UAE and Australia. Another 12 national teams from the Asia zone will qualify for the World Cup.

There are 10 teams from Africa, and a draw for the play-off pairs next week in which, according to the FIFA ranking, the seeded teams will be Senegal, Morocco, Tunisia, Algeria, and Nigeria, and unseeded Egypt, Cameroon, Ghana, Mali, and DR Congo. After that, two matches will be played in March, and the winners will go to the World Cup.

There are six rounds left in the CONCACAF zone, and all eight national teams still have mathematical chances. Canada, the US, and Mexico are in the lead for a spot in Qatar, while Panama could see an intercontinental play-off.

No one has dropped out yet in South America. Brazil and Argentina have secured the World Cup, and eight spots can still be claimed. Ecuador and Colombia are the most likely, and if Peru finished the qualifications now, they would go to the playoffs. 

Eleven national teams should participate in Oceania qualifiers next year, and the winner will also go to the playoffs. In Europe, on the other hand, there are 12 more nations fighting for Qatar, which will be divided into three tournaments. The winners of each will go to the World Cup.

Thus, there are 19 places left and 61 national teams fighting for Qatar. 2022 World Cup matches will be played at eight stadiums in five cities, Al Khor, Al Rayyan, Al Wakrahu, Doha, and Lusail. Qatar is a country with about 2.8 million inhabitants, located on 11,581 square kilometers, which is less than the area of the four Dalmatian counties combined (12,951 km2), so distance is no problem. Namely, the southernmost Al Wakrah to the northernmost Al Khor is only about 70 kilometers by road.

But coming to the Arabian Peninsula from Croatia is another story. 

Jutarnji List made an approximate estimate of how much the World Cup in Qatar would cost for Croatia fans if the World Cup were played in November and December this year, and if Croatia remained in the tournament from start to finish, like in Russia 2018.

The cheapest direct return flights from Zagreb - Doha today are around 4,600 kuna, with the possibility that you can find flights of up to 4,000 kuna for fans who have no problem changing several times and extending the trip to ten hours. The direct Zagreb - Doha flight lasts 5 hours and 15 minutes.

FIFA has not yet announced ticket prices or ticket sales. Suppose the amounts are in the range of the 2018 World Cup, the total consumption of a Croatia fan who would stop watching Croatia only in the final is 13,000 kuna. The cheapest tickets for three matches in the group stage would cost $315, for the round of 16 $115, for the quarterfinals $175, for the semifinals $285, and the final $455. In total, it is $1,345 US dollars or almost 9,000 kuna.

There is currently a lot of affordable accommodation in Qatar, though the quality is questionable. For example, you can find an apartment in Doha for 9,200 kuna for four people (two beds) via Airbnb for a month, which is 2,300 kuna per person. Admittedly, there are few of these offers, but likely none like this during the 2022 World Cup. However, it's safe the say that private one-month accommodations could be found for 5, 6, 7 thousand kuna per person.

The cheapest accommodation for an individual through Booking.com is currently 14,000 kuna/month. Jutarnji thus calculated a minimum of 15,000 kuna/month plus the daily cost of food, drinks, and transportation in Qatar, requiring at least 20,000 kuna for those who do not seek luxury but see Qatar as a great adventure.

A large pizza is around 90 kuna in well-known branded pizzerias and fast food menus around 40 kuna, calculated from Qatari riyals (1 rial is around 1.8 kuna). If the World Cup starts today, between 25,000 and 30,000 kuna would be needed for the average Croatia fan in Qatar for a month, providing Croatia goes to the final. 

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

Tuesday, 16 November 2021

Zlatko Dalić on Future Croatia Captain and Modrić's Successor

November 16, 2021 - Zlatko Dalić hinted at who should replace Luka Modrić as the future Croatia captain - and he happens to be one of the biggest European stars this year. 

A tearful Zlatko Dalić was seen at the final whistle after Croatia secured their spot at the 2022 World Cup in Qatar. Dalić admitted that this dramatic ending to the World Cup qualifications was moving and he was delighted to lead Croatia to defend the World Cup silver next year. 

In an interview with Nova TV, Dalić was full of emotions. 

"One of my biggest victories; it meant a lot to me. Especially because it was the final, played in front of a full stadium, and it took us to Qatar. I was just emotionally broken. This time I couldn't stand it with so much pressure and stress. We wanted Croatia to qualify; we prevailed, in those moments I couldn't control myself, everything was released."

He announced that Croatia could move to a system with three players in the back.

"We will try a formation with three defenders. We will need to prepare very well for the World Cup. There will not be many terms to play, we have to expect great things from Croatia, but we cannot get a result without these older players."

There has been a lot of talk about returning Ivan Rakitić to the national team.

"I am in contact with him. Ivan did not have the opportunity to be with us because of Covid-19; now was the chance to thank him, and we invited him to Split. He retired, so we will see. If the need arises, we will talk, but one should look at our youth. However, Ivan said that if the need arises, he is there."

Dalić then praised Mato Kovačić.

"I have to point out Mateo Kovačić. He is Modrić's successor; he should become the captain of the national team. He is the biggest winner in 2021; he is the European champion, he plays great for the national team, he goes to the top, he cannot be replaced when he is healthy."

Modrić does not want to rest.

"Modrić wanted to play against Malta, I even wanted to replace him at half-time, and he wanted to play more. Luckily these young players can learn from him. The younger ones will progress much faster with the older ones like Modrić, Lovren, and Brozović."

Ivo Grbić was in goal for Croatia's last two games. 

"We changed the goalkeeper, we estimated that he is in better shape, but Livaković is still number one in the national team, and it is up to him to work and prove himself again. We have no problems with goalkeepers. Grbić deserved to defend, and Livaković must be even better to remain number one.

I have been leading the national team for five years. No money or contract can ruin this for me. Of course, there were difficult moments, but I forgot all that. What I experienced is irreplaceable. The fans are our strength," concluded Dalić.

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

Monday, 15 November 2021

Zlatko Dalić, Most Successful Croatia National Team Coach

November 15, 2021 - Croatia has qualified for the 2022 World Cup, making Zlatko Dalić the most successful Croatia national team coach we have seen. 

Just over four years ago, Zlatko Dalić took over the Croatia national team at its worst. Led by Ante Čačić at the time, Croatia drew against Finland in Rijeka and needed an away victory against Ukraine to secure additional qualifications for the 2018 World Cup in Russia. Čačić was sacked, an unknown Dalić was announced as the coach, and proceeded to defeat Ukraine and Greece in additional World Cup qualifications. We all know what happens next. 

Four years later, Zlatko Dalić became the first Croatia coach to take the national team to three major competitions. In the meantime, he led Croatia to the 2018 World Cup final. Zlatko Dalić is thus the most successful Croatia national team coach, reports Index.hr.

Since participating independently in UEFA and FIFA competitions, Croatia has missed only two major competitions - Euro 2000 and the 2010 World Cup. Miroslav 'Ćiro' Blažević and Slaven Bilić are the only two Croatia coaches comparable to Zlatko Dalić, considering they are the only coaches who have led the national team in more than 50 games. Interestingly, no other coach on the bench has endured more than 25 games, which only testifies to how explosive the Croatia bench is.

Ćiro Blažević was the only coach who could successfully lead the national team in the 90s, and with the bronze medal at the 1998 World Cup, he earned the 'coach of all coaches' nickname. 

On the other hand, Slaven Bilić made the biggest tactical and personnel revolution in the national team's history. And with 42 wins in 65 games, he is by far the most successful coach in terms of win-loss ratios. 

Nevertheless, after defeating Russia, Zlatko Dalić not only qualified for his third major competition in a row, but for the second time, he showed that he does not need additional qualifications for such an achievement. Furthermore, after a weak start, he showed that it was unnecessary to switch coaches to ensure the national team would come out on top in critical qualification moments, putting him ahead of Blažević and Bilić today. 

From the beginning of his term, Zlatko Dalić was nearly doomed to fail, primarily because he was unknown compared to former coaches. He also did not have the full support of HNS and was seen as a temporary solution.

And Dalić's road to success was no walk in the park. Recall, Croatia experienced many painful defeats under Dalić, from losing a record 6:0 to Spain and another blunder against Portugal. Croatia has also played poorly against much weaker opponents, like Slovenia, Hungary, or Azerbaijan. And Dalić has not escaped media criticism.

However, the essential criteria for the success of a coach are qualifying for major competitions and getting good results. Dalić first took Croatia to the World Cup, reached the final for the first time, and then qualified for two major competitions, finishing first in the qualifying group.

No one before him has shown such peaks and continuity, and that is why the verdict is clear: as far as the Croatia national team and its coaches are concerned, Zlatko Dalić sits alone at the top. 

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

Monday, 15 November 2021

Croatia National Team Schedule in 2022: From Nations League to World Cup

November 15, 2021 - The Croatia national team schedule in 2022 is slowly coming together after the Vatreni qualified for the World Cup at Poljud on Sunday. But the World Cup isn't the only big competition Croatia will play next year. 

The Croatia national football team defeated Russia at Poljud on Sunday and qualified for the 2022 World Cup, which Qatar will host from November 21 to December 18 next year, reports Gol.hr.

It will be Croatia's sixth World Cup and the third consecutive major competition in which the Vatreni qualified under coach Zlatko Dalić.

In addition to the World Cup host, Germany, Denmark, Brazil, Belgium, France, Serbia, Spain, and Croatia have qualified for Qatar. A total of 32 national teams will take part, but there is still a long way to complete the entire list of participants.

The World Cup group draw will be held on April 1, 2022, in Doha. On that day, coach Dalić and the players will learn the three national teams they will compete against in the group stage of the World Cup.

At this moment, while the European and other qualifications are still ongoing, it is impossible to know much more about Croatia's fate in the draw or the seed they will be given. 

But before all of that, we have the UEFA Nations League.

Namely, on December 16, the draw for the 2022 Nations League will be held, and a day later UEFA, will announce the exact schedule of matches, which will be held in only two national team windows in 2022.

For example, four Nations League rounds will be played from June 2 to 14, and the remaining two in the second half of September (from 22 to 27).

This does not mean that Croatia will rest at the end of March. While Russia and the remaining second-placed national teams will play additional World Cup qualifications, Croatia will play maybe three friendly matches as part of the World Cup preparations. Therefore, it will be a great chance for Dalić to test the form of the current national team members and those players on his national team radar. 

Significant dates for Croatia:
December 16, 2021: Nations League draw
December 17, 2021: Nations League match schedule announcement

March 21 to 30, 2022: 2-3 friendly matches

April 1, 2022: World Cup draw

June 2 to 4, 2022: First round of the Nations League
June 5 to 8, 2022: Second round of the Nations League
June 9 to 11, 2022: Third round of the Nations League
June 12 to 14, 2022: Fourth round of the Nations League

September 22 to 24, 2022: Fifth round of the Nations League
September 25 to 27, 2022: Sixth round of the Nations League

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

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