Wednesday, 25 January 2023

Croatia and the Netherlands to Meet in UEFA Nations League Semi-final

January 25, 2023 - Croatia found out its opponent in the UEFA Nations League semi-final after the draw was held in Nyon on Wednesday.  

Croatia will thus play against the Netherlands on June 14 in Rotterdam. Spain and Italy will meet in the second semi-final on June 15 in Enschede.

The winners of the semi-final matches will play in the final in Rotterdam on June 18, while the losers will play for third place also on June 18 in Enschede.

In the third season of the Nations League, Croatia reached the final tournament and was the only debutant in this mini-tournament. Croatia went to the final four after finishing first in a group against defending champions France, Denmark, and Austria.

Croatia was impressive in the third edition of the Nations League after poor results in the first two editions. After opening against Austria with a shock 3:0 defeat in Osijek, Croatia still had to face the national teams of France and Denmark. Dalić had to apologize to the fans, and there was little belief in this Croatia after the debacle against Austria.

The show at Poljud in front of 30,000 fans started Croatia'ss revival in the Nations League. A draw against the then-current World Champions, France, was a sign that Croatia could turn everything around. In the end, Croatia defeated Denmark twice, one of the best European teams then. For the first time in history, Croatia also beat France at Stade de France in front of more than 70,000 fans and confirmed their spot in the final tournament with a victory against Austria in Vienna.

Dalić commented on Croatia's semi-final opponent:

"We will play against the most difficult opponent, the hosts, who will play in front of a full stadium and led by a new coach. The Netherlands is a truly great team. However, whichever team we draw, we would be playing against a strong opponent, as all four teams are in the top ten in the world. We know what our goal is, a place in the final, and we will try to achieve it. The Netherlands has a new coach, and is very good, especially in defense. They have young, powerful players, and they will play in front of their audience, but I also expect great support from our fans in Rotterdam. A big match awaits us, it will be a big challenge for us, but we will be ready, and I expect our victory," said Zlatko Dalić.

The first semi-final match will be played on June 14 in Rotterdam at 20:45, and the second in Enschede on June 15 at 20:45. The game for third place will be played on June 18 in Enschede at 15:00, and the final is the same day in Rotterdam at 20:45. It was decided in advance that the Netherlands would play its semi-final match in Rotterdam.

The Croatian Football Federation delegation in Nyon included assistant coach of Croatia Vedran Ćorluka, team manager of the national team Iva Olivari, and official spokesperson Tomislav Pacak.

To follow the latest sports news in Croatia, follow TCN's dedicated page.

Monday, 19 December 2022

Croatia, the Tiny Country Which Consistently Delivers

December 19, 2022 - The heroes are home, with some 80,000 cheering the returning Vatreni to Zagreb with their third World Cup medal in just 6 tournaments.

There can be few places better during the World Cup than Croatia. The tiny country which dared to dream is transformed into a sea of red and white squares, as seemingly every member of the population possesses their own version of the national football shirt. A tiny nation of just 4 million people, and yet one which consistently delivers on the international stage at the big tournaments when it matters. Third place in 1998, the first World Cup of a newly-independent nation. Runners-up last time in Moscow, and one more bronze this time round, as Croatia overcame Morocco 2-1 in the third-place playoff, having succumbed to Argentina 3-0 in the semi-final. 

You will find plenty of people telling you how the referee was against Croatia against Argentina, much less of them who will reflect on Croatia's biggest friend in the tournament, a Belgian striker called Lukaku in the group stages. Did that unfair penalty change the game? Perhaps. Had Lukaka scored one of the many open goals from one metre out, there would not have been a discussion about Argentina. At the end of the day, what matters are results.

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(Photo: Slobodan Kadic)

And when it comes to results, few can compare to the success of the tiny country which dared to dream. Three medals in 6 World Cups in 24 years is a phenomenal achievement for any country, even more so for one so small, with a shrinking population of less than 3.9 million. What is additionally impressive, to me at least, is just how much of this is as a result of home-grown talent, which has been nurtured back in the Homeland. Livakovic was unquestionably the goalkeeper of the tournament, whatever the official decision, and in Gvadiol, Croatia and one of Europe's biggest clubs, have one of the centre-backs of the world for many years to come. 

And there is plenty of home-grown talent that went on to shine on the international stage elsewhere, none more so than talisman captain Luka Modric, who started his journey at Dinamo Zagreb. I read somewhere that in the days of former Yugoslavia, players were not allowed to play abroad until they were 28. This no doubt strengthened the Yugoslav league at the time. Such a rule does not apply in Croatia, and the Croatian National League is fairly weak as a result, but the sheer number of talented stars that emerge from such a tiny country is breathtaking indeed. 

And many of those stars were on show on Zagreb's main square of Ban Jelacic lat night, as the Vatreni returned home to a waiting crowd of 80,000 fans who had braved the December cold weather to welcome back their heroes. The timing was somewhat ironic, coming around the same time as the actual World Cup Final back in Qatar. But for many in Zagreb, the true champions of the tournament were the Croatian team on the main square. It was quite a party, not quite as crazy as the 550,000 who turned up in the summer of 2018 to welcome back the sliver-medal winning team from Moscow, but understandable given the time of year. Croats do celebration so well. 

Congratulations to Croatia and all my friends here on another great success. It has once more been very impressive to watch. 

Now, if only we could channel this passion, positivity, and success into changing things in this country... 

****

What is it like to live in Croatia? An expat for 20 years, you can follow my series, 20 Ways Croatia Changed Me in 20 Years, starting at the beginning - Business and Dalmatia.

Follow Paul Bradbury on LinkedIn.

Croatia, a Survival Kit for Foreigners is now available on Amazon in paperback and on Kindle.

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Wednesday, 16 November 2022

Kramarić Scores in Croatia's 1-0 Friendly Win in Riyadh before World Cup

November 16, 2022 - Andrej Kramarić scores in Croatia's only friendly match ahead of the World Cup. Croatia beat Saudi Arabia 1-0 in Riyadh on Wednesday. 

In the only preparatory match before the World Cup in Qatar, the Croatia national team won 1-0 against Saudi Arabia. Andrej Kramarić brought the victory to Croatia with a great goal in the 82nd minute.

Coach Zlatko Dalić started this match with Croatia's reserves. As announced, Dalić chose a mixed lineup, mostly with players who will not start against Morocco next week. 

Croatia Lineup

Livaković, Stanišić, Lovren, Erlić, Barišić, Sučić, Brozović, Majer, Pašalić, Vlašić, Petković

Croatia looked rough in the first half and only had one shot on goal. Saudi Arabia proved to be a formidable opponent until the very end. Saudi Arabia had several attempts and even hit the post. On the other hand, Croatia was mainly invisible. At halftime, Dalić subbed off Vlašić and Sučić for Kovačić and Oršić. In the 58th minute, Lovren and Petković were subbed off for Vida and Kramarić. 

Kramarić scored in the 73rd minute, but it was called offside. Luka Modrić and Ivan Perišić entered the match only in the 65th minute. 

Croatia finally secured the victory in the final 10 minutes of the match. A great ball by Luka Modrić found Kramarić in the 82nd minute. He shot from about ten meters and hit the near post of the goal for the Croatia lead and ultimate win. Croatia had another goal disallowed after Ivan Perišić scored in the 87th minute. 

This was Croatia's fifth win in a row, coming off a successful Nations League campaign. 

Croatia's first World Cup match in Group F is against Morocco on Wednesday, November 23, at 11 am Croatia time. Croatia travels from Riyadh to Qatar tomorrow. 

To follow the latest sports news in Croatia, follow TCN's dedicated page

Sunday, 9 October 2022

Croatia to Open 2024 Euro Qualifiers at Home against Wales

October 10, 2022 - Croatia will open the 2024 Euro qualifiers against Wales next year, as their schedule in group D is known. 

Croatia's road to the Euros in Germany will begin with a home match against Wales on March 25 next year. Three days later (March 28), Croatia will visit Turkey.

Given that Croatia is expected to play in the Nations League Final Four in June, they will continue the Euro qualifications in Germany with two matches in September, against Latvia (September 8) at home and Armenia (September 11) away.

In October, Croatia welcomes Turkey (October 12) and visits Wales (October 15). In November, they visit Latvia (November 18), and at the end of the qualification cycle, they welcome Armenia (November 21).

Euro 2024 qualification group D schedule

1st round (March 25, 2023, Saturday)

Armenia - Turkey (18:00)

Croatia - Wales (20:45)

2nd round (March 28, 2023, Tuesday)

Turkey - Croatia (20:45)

Wales - Latvia (20:45)

3rd round (June 16, 2023, Friday)

Latvia - Turkey (20:45)

Wales - Armenia (20:45)

4th round (June 19, 2023, Monday)

Armenia - Latvia (18:00)

Turkey - Wales (20:45)

5th round (September 8, 2023, Friday)

Croatia - Latvia (20:45)

Turkey - Armenia (20:45)

5th round (September 11, 2023, Monday)

Armenia - Croatia (18:00)

Latvia - Wales (20:45)

7th round (October 12, 2023, Thursday)

Croatia - Turkey (20:45)

Latvia - Armenia (20:45)

8th round (October 15, 2023, Sunday)

Turkey - Latvia (20:45)

Wales - Croatia (20:45)

Round 9 (November 18, 2023, Saturday)

Armenia - Wales (15:00)

Latvia - Croatia (18:00)

10th round (21 November 2023, Tuesday)

Croatia - Armenia (20:45)

Wales - Turkey (20:45)

53 national teams will participate in the qualifiers and try to grab 23 spots for the Euro. Germany, as the organizer of the final tournament, automatically qualified and therefore does not participate in the draw. Due to the suspension, Russia will not participate in the qualifiers either.

Due to political reasons, Armenia and Azerbaijan, Belarus and Ukraine, Gibraltar and Spain, Kosovo and Bosnia and Herzegovina, and Kosovo and Serbia could not be included in the same group.

Until now, Croatia has played in six European competitions. The 2000 European Championship in Belgium and the Netherlands was the only one they missed. Croatia played in the quarter-finals twice (England 1996, Austria and Switzerland 2008), reached the round of 16 twice (Euro 2020, France 2016), and finished the competition in the group twice (Portugal 2004, Poland, and Ukraine 2012). 

To follow the latest sports news in Croatia, follow TCN's dedicated page.

 

Friday, 9 September 2022

Croatian-Slovenian Foodtech Startup Attracts Large Investment

September the 9th, 2022 - One Croatian-Slovenian foodtech startup has attracted an impressive investment and is likely to have its image boosted beyond what the creators ever though possible.

As Poslovni Dnevnik/Ana Blaskovic writes, a winning combination of incredible youthful energy, a tried-and-tested product that quickly conquers the health food market with "know-how" and a financial injection from a venture capital fund - that's the story of Juicefast, a new investment of the Feelsgood fund worth half a million euros.

The Juicefast brand, which will be launched at the beginning of October, is a newly founded Croatian-Slovenian foodtech startup that will unite the current Detox.hr brand and the Healthy Meals pilot project of young entrepreneurs David and Marko Dravinec.

This Croatian-Slovenian foodtech startup and its accompanying entrepreneurial story started back in 2018 from the confines of the small neighbourhood fruit shop Mali vrt (Little garden) where the idea of ​​freshly squeezed 100 percent natural apple juice for detoxification and fasting was first born, 22-year-old David explained.

On the wings of conquering the lucrative (and very rapidly growing) healthy food market, which was also affected by the coronavirus pandemic, given that the spread of the virus emphasised the importance of a good diet and general healthcare, their income growth was rapid: in 2020 it amounted to 1.5 million kuna, then it grew to 2.8 million kuna, and the last figure they reported reached a massive 6.5 million kuna. Juicefast is a neat play on words which alludes to the speed and simplicity of the process.

"We were amazed at how much people liked simple juice. Now we understand that there's a reason in this simplicity. Each of our juices is made with 1.5 kilograms of fresh fruit and vegetables. We all know we should eat it, we know it's good for us, we know we'll feel better, but...sometimes we just don't feel like it," he says with a giggle.

"And then, if you can be bothered, you've got to prepare your juices.... Buy the groceries, prepare them, then you've got to clean the juicer after using it, all of which takes time. It's easier to jump down to the bakery and buy it all already done for you. The hectic pace of modern life imposes some other priorities on us, and we often put our health on the back burner. These are problems that we've manage to solve, and we've provided both simplicity and practicality,'' he added.

The range of detox juices offered by this Croatian-Slovenian foodtech startup is made exclusively from fruits and vegetables from domestic family farms, except for exotic species for which Croatia is simply not a natural climate.

The juicing is carried out in a 500-square-metre hall in Laduc using slow-juicing devices that retain nutritional the fruit's values, especially vitamins. Detoxification has become extremely popular in the last few years with a combination of intermittent fasting that gives the body a "break" from constant food intake. The entrepreneurial duo has as such successfully found their niche with a range of juices that are not pasteurised, have no preservatives or additives, but are processed with high hydrostatic pressure.

Feelsgood, the only Croatian venture capital fund that requires a positive social impact from its investments in both Croatia and Slovenia, has invested 500,000 euros in the project, recognising the synergistic effect of the production of juices and healthy meals, sustainable agriculture and cooperation with local producers.

The investment injection, on top of the 250,000 euros from other investors, will be used for the growth and development of the company here in Croatia, as well as to provide the spring in the startup's step for their move to the markets of Slovenia, Austria, Germany, Italy and Hungary. The glittering USA is also on their radar.

For more, make sure to check out our dedicated business section.

Thursday, 11 August 2022

Memories of Croatia in 1996: Reflections of a 5-Year-Old

August 11, 2022 - Memories of Croatia in 1996, as remembered by a 5-year-old visiting for the first time from America.

I was recently interviewed by someone in the United States working on a research project with Croatians and Croatian-Americans about the relationships between tourists and locals in Croatia. As a Croatian-American and someone who has lived in Croatia for seven years, I was a good fit. 

The wonderful hour-long Zoom call took me on a journey through my Croatian adventures, from the Croatian influence in my family growing up in San Diego to my first visit to Croatia in 1996 and every visit after that until I moved here in 2015.

And it got me thinking a lot about my first trip to Croatia in 1996. I was 5 years old. 

My family and I flew into Germany and drove from Frankfurt to Croatia, passing through German and Austrian towns along the way before reaching Zagreb.  Which I remember vividly. 

As Croatia smelled fresh of war, I remember being unable to sleep that first night in our Zagreb hotel, thinking there was a soldier in the closet. It was a haunting experience for a 5-year-old, and I can paint the interiors of that hotel room in my mind now. 

I remember playing with pigeons in Ban Jelacic Square, which is something I recall every time I visit the capital now. If only I were as fearless of pigeons as I was back then... 

We drove from Zagreb to Rijeka to visit my grandmother's sister and her family before taking the overnight ferry down to Split (remember when that still operated?). 

Oddly enough, we chose not to spend much time in Split, even though it is the city where my father was born and where my grandfather and grandmother raised their family before moving to New York City in 1958. I do, however, have this photo of my brother and me at the ferry port. How those Jadrolinija ships have hardly changed in the last 26 years. 

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We made our way to Trogir, the town where my grandparents met in their teenage years. My grandfather's family roots are in Trogir, well, technically from a small village in the hills above Trogir called Prapatinica. His family ultimately migrated from the selo to the 'city'. My grandmother's family moved to Trogir from Stari Grad after World War II, which is where one of her brothers continued to live when we visited in 1996. I will never forget eating pršut and sir amongst the chickens in his small outdoor shack. 

The memories I can recall most from that trip are with my mother's family in a tiny village outside of Metkovic called 'Kosa'. The seven-house village sits on the river, with two surnames ruling the territory. We are all somehow related. 

We stayed at my mother's family home - where my dida and baba raised my mother and her 6 siblings. My mother hadn't seen her family in over a decade, though this absence carried more significance, considering her younger brothers had just fought in the Homeland War. My brother and I spent a lot of time dressing up in their uniforms. 

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I have home videos of me chewing on crusty white bread, spread with butter and šipak marmalade, as that was my go-to breakfast in Croatia that summer (the sugary cereals of America were quickly forgotten). The few words in Croatian I knew then were endlessly repeated, from 'neću' to 'šta?' and 'jedan, dva triiiii!'. 

I remember playing with the other village children on the river, setting out on our small trupina boat to reach the farmland across the way, where my family cultivated their crops to make a living. And the goats - I remember the many baby goats! If only I knew what their fate would be then...

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Being from the Neretva River and all, frogs are the ultimate delicacy. And my uncles were experts at hunting them - a unique craft that is done explicitly in the early morning hours. Now, anyone that knows a bit about frog culture in Dalmatia, is that it is usually eaten two ways - in a brudet (and in Neretva, this means stewed with river eel, too), or fried - you now, breaded like schnitzel or fried chicken. 

I remember 15 of us huddled around the small family dinner table eating, what I thought, was fried chicken. And as any 5-year-old from America might do, dipping it in ketchup to imitate chicken fingers. I grew suspicious after I glanced over at my father eating the same thing, considering he had been a pescatarian since his early 20s. "Hmm.. If Tata is eating it, it can't be chicken." 

And thus, my first experience eating frogs was had, with ketchup, at 5 years old. 

I remember swimming at Klek beach, now just a short drive from the new Peljesac Bridge, which is where this famous photo was taken. 

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And all I remember about our day trip to Dubrovnik is serving this look on Stradun. 

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For more, make sure to check out our dedicated lifestyle section.

Sunday, 24 July 2022

Croatian Harvest Festival Held in Novi Sad

ZAGREB, 24 July 2022 - The Bunjevci Croats Association (UBH) organised in Novi Sad, Serbia on Sunday a traditional ceremony of thanking God for the harvest and this was the first time it was held outside the northern part of Bačka, a region in the northern Serbian province of Vojvodina.

The two-hour festival, which Bunjevci Croats call Dužijanca, began with Mass and ended with a procession whose participants wore Croatian folk costumes and by giving bread to Novi Sad Deputy Mayor Milan Đurić.

He was thankful for the honour and said the city supported holding the festival in the spirit of good cooperation with the Croatian National Council. Special attention was paid to it as it was held in the year when Novi Sad holds the title of a European Capital of Culture, he added.

UBH director Marinko Piuković said he was glad the association had the opportunity to show without problems the customs the Croatian community in Vojvodina has been cultivating for over 100 years.

He said that two years ago the thanksgiving was held in Zagreb, last year in Hungary, while next year it will be held in Mostar, Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Among those in attendance was Croatian MP Goran Ivanović, who said he hoped the cooperation between minority communities with the majority would be raised to a higher level, specifically by  ensuring guaranteed seats in Serbia's representative bodies at all government levels.

Democratic Alliance of Croats in Vojvodina deputy president Goran Kaurić said it was important the Croatian minority's culture could be shown in Novi Sad as it could help ease the renewed tensions in Croatia-Serbia relations.

The festival is co-financed by the Croatian State Office for Croats Outside Croatia, which was represented in Novi Sad by Croatian Ambassador to Serbia Hidajet Biščević.

Bunjevci Croats in northern Bačka celebrate Dužijanca from April to mid-August, when the central event is held in Subotica.

(Hina) ha

Sunday, 24 July 2022

71 kg of Food Per Capita Thrown Away in Croatia Every Year

ZAGREB, 24 July 2022 - About 71 kg of food per capita is thrown away in Croatia every year, totalling over 280,000 tonnes, and 76% of that comes from households, while the EU average is 53%, the president of the Food Waste Prevention Centre (CEPOH), Branka Ilakovac, has told Hina.

Prevention and educating citizens has not been recognised in Croatia as key in the fight against the creation of food waste, she said, underlining the importance of expert organisations constantly informing and educating all age groups and sectors.

CEPOH has launched an EU project to build capacities for the Green Deal made to the measure of local communities in order to help everyone who wishes to donate food.

The HRK 442,500 project is mostly financed by the European Social Fund and will last 15 months.

Preventing the creation of food waste is the most important step in food waste management as recommended by the European Commission, Ilakovac said.

It is possible to significantly reduce food waste by educating customers to change daily habits in buying, preparing and consuming food, she said, adding that during the 2020 COVID lockdown, households reduced food waste by 10%.

She said a CEPOH survey showed that nearly half the respondents cited an excess of food prepared as the reason for food waste in their household.

Ilakovac underlined the need to raise awareness of the fact that food waste polluted the air, the soil and underground waters.

Twenty-five percent of habitable areas and 70% of drinking water are used for the world's food production, which is the cause of 30% of greenhouse gases, 80% of deforestation, and one of the major causes of change in land use and biodiversity loss, she said.

That also accelerates climate change, which in turn affects the safety, quality and availability of food, she added.

Throwing food is also a moral problem because of the many socially vulnerable, undernourished and hungry people, whose numbers will only increase due to global inflation and climate change, she said.

According to estimates, EU countries throw away 88 million tonnes of food, causing a cost of €143 billion, she said, adding that Croatia, as an EU member state, set the target of reducing the throwing of food by 50% by 2030, which is also in line with the UN's Sustainable Development Goals.

Ilkovac also said that Croatia had drawn up a 2019-22 plan to prevent and reduce food waste.

For more, check out our lifestyle section.

Sunday, 17 July 2022

Croatia's Petra Martić Wins WTA Lausanne Tournament

ZAGREB, 17 July 2022 - Croatia's tennis player Petra Martić on Sunday beat Serbia's Olga Danilović in the final match at the WTA International Ladies Open Lausanne tennis tournament with the result 6-4, 6-2, thus winning the second WTA tournament in her career.

The 31-year-old Croatian captured her first WTA title in Istanbul three years ago.

Martić is the first Croatian winner of the WTA International Ladies Open Lausanne tournament which started in 2016.

The prize money for the winner is $33,200 and Martić also won 280 WTA points.

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

Sunday, 17 July 2022

Average Vehicle Age in Croatia at Nearly 15 Years

ZAGREB, 17 July 2022 - The average age of vehicles in Croatia in the first half of 2022 was 14.74 years, and nearly 70% of the vehicles were 10 or more years old, the Croatian Centre for Vehicles reported earlier this week.

In the first six months of this year, there were 1,244,465 registered vehicles in Croatia.

As many as 68.14% of them were 10 or more years old, while 14.73% were between six and nine years old and 12.79% were between two and five years old.

Only 4.33% were up to one year old.

By comparison, the average vehicle age was 14.18 years in 2020 and 14.34 years in 2021.

"Although we hope that this number will fall by the end of the year, the increasing average age of vehicles in Croatia shows the importance of regular vehicle maintenance and technical inspection," said Tomislav Škreblin from the Centre for Vehicles.

Most of the newly-registered vehicles were passenger cars -- 54,429, of which 23,777 were new and 30,652 were used vehicles. 50% of them were powered by diesel and 35% by petrol, while 9.9% were hybrid vehicles.

Only 2.35% were fuelled by petrol and LPG, 1.32% were electric vehicles, 1.11% were hybrid vehicles with external charging, 0.02% were fuelled by petrol and natural gas, and 0.0018% only by natural gas.

Utility vehicles predominantly used diesel fuel as well.

There was a considerable increase in the number of new hybrid passenger cars, accounting for around 21% of the newly-registered vehicles in the first half of 2022. On the other hand, used hybrid passenger cars accounted for only 2.4% of the newly-registered vehicles.

A total of 5,419 hybrid vehicles, 605 hybrid vehicles with external charges and 721 electric vehicles were registered in the first half of the year.

For more news about Croatia, click here.

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