Wednesday, 18 May 2022

Busy Summer Ahead: Croatia Readies for 2022 Water Polo World Championships and Euros

May 18, 2022 - The 2022 Water Polo World Championships will be held in Hungary from June 18 to July 3, 2022, with Croatia playing the first part of the competition in Debrecen, where Group B will compete. Croatia will play against Greece (June 21), Germany (June 23), and Japan (June 25).

"Over time, according to FINA rules, we will narrow down that list and determine the final 13 players who will travel to the World Champs in Hungary. As we know, we will never have shorter preparations and less time to work with a very young team," said Ivica Tucak, who persists in his intention to create a new, significantly rejuvenated national team.

"Nevertheless, we will continue to be the team with the greatest ambitions. Those preparations before leaving for the World Champs lasting only ten days, as well as the end of the club season in which our players come as exhausted as possible, are not in our favor, but it's the same for us and other national teams," Tucak added. 

"We are gathering a new national team, so I hope that in that extremely short time we will be able to correct the mistakes we noticed at the World League tournament in Podgorica and are ready to welcome the World Champs. However, the main focus of the Croatia water polo team this summer will be the European Championships in Split (August 27 - September 10) and a rather busy schedule awaits us this summer," Tucak said.

Preparations for the World Championships begin on June 14 in Pula with the Croatia - Italy match, followed by a short gathering in Zagreb and a trip to Hungary. European Championship preparations start on July 18 in Kranj and Maribor, followed by the tournament in Cagliari, preparations in Šibenik, and a tournament in Belgrade. Finally, on August 24, Croatia gathers for the European Championships in Split.

1. Marko Bijač (Olympiacos)
2. Ivan Marcelić (Jadran)
3. Toni Popadić (Jug Adriatic osiguranje)
4. Jerko Jurlina (Mladost)
5. Marin Šparada (Solaris)

6. Ivan Krapić (Noisy-le-Sec)
7. Josip Vrlić (Radnički)
8. Lovro Paparić (Vouliagmeni)
9. Antonio Dužević (Jadran)

10. Hrvoje Benić (Jug Adriatic osiguranje)
11. Marko Žuvela (Jug Adriatic osiguranje)
12. Kristijan Milaković (Szolnok)
13. Matias Biljaka (Mladost)

14. Luka Bukić (Jadran)
15. Loren Fatović (Jug Adriatic osiguranje)
16. Ante Vukičević (Marseille)
17. Jerko Marinić Kragić (Jadran)
18. Konstantin Harkov (Jadran)
19. Rino Burić (Jadran)
20. Ivan Domagoj Zović (Szolnok)
21. Franko Lazić (Mladost)
22. Andrija Bašić (Palermo)
23. Jerko Penava (Solaris)
24. Zvonimir Butić (Jadran)
25. Filip Kržić (Jug Adriatic osiguranje)
26. Dario Rakovac (Mladost)

Source: HVS

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

Saturday, 30 April 2022

Croatia Finishes 6th in Water Polo World League European Qualifications

April 30, 2022 - The Croatia men's water polo team took 6th place in the final tournament of the World League European qualifications, which is being held in Podgorica. Croatia lost the match for fifth place to Hungary on Saturday 9-14 (1-3, 3-1, 2-5, 3-5 ).

Jerko Marinić Kragić scored three goals for Croatia, while Ivan Krapić, Ivan Domagoj Zović, Luka Bukić, Josip Vrlić, Hrvoje Benić, and Konstantin Harkov added one goal each. Hungary was led by Marton Vamos with four goals and Gergely Burian with three goals.

"This is a new team after all. A lot of players have ‘retired’ when it comes to national water polo. There are a lot of new players, and I am finally among them. The goal in Podgorica was to work mostly on the team part of tactics, technique, and even some other things outside the pool. To become a real ‘klapa’. Therefore, when it is put in order, everything will be as it should be. This tournament was good for us to see where we are and what we are, since we didn't have much time to prepare. We still have a lot to fix. I think that the Croatia national team must aim for the highest success and I think we will achieve that. The process is long, it is not easy, but we will succeed. We have time to do all this, we have time to come to the next gathering, if I'm not mistaken, on June 5. We are all eager, hungry and thirsty for success," Jerko Marinić Kragić emphasized after the match for HVS.

Qualifying for the final World League tournament, which will be held from July 23 to 29 in Strasbourg, will be won by the three first-placed national teams from the tournament in Podgorica. Namely, the match for fifth place did not matter.

Italy and Serbia took two of the three places with victories in the semifinals on Friday, while Montenegro and Spain will play for the third-place later on Saturday. Earlier, France, the USA, Canada, Brazil, and Australia won a spot in the final tournament.

Source: HRT

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Sunday, 24 April 2022

European Water Polo Championship Draw Held at Peristil

April 24, 2022 - The group draw for the European Water Polo Championship was held in a spectacular way at Peristyle, inside Diocletian's Palace. The Croatia women's team will face Germany, Hungary, Greece, the Netherlands, and Romania, while the men will face Greece, Malta, and France in the main water polo tournament on the continent, which will be held in Split in August.

Peristyle and water polo. At first, it sounds like a weird date, but if you found yourself nearby last night, you definitely made sure it was a winning combination. Magical and spectacular. Epithets followed one after the other because, in the world of water polo, such an event has not been seen so far, reports Slobodna Dalmacija. This was the first touch of the seemingly incompatible.

History in the service of sports - so the organizers announced the draw of groups for the European Water Polo Championship, which is scheduled from August 27 to September 10 in Split. What they promised, they fulfilled. The special occasion took place at the historic square in front of the Cathedral of St. Duje, where a wedding ceremony ended just before the start of the event. The happy newlyweds further complemented the already glamorous atmosphere.

There were also curious tourists. Everyone wanted to see what was going on at the Peristyle... and then it started. Ana Rucner opened with a cello performance. The official mascot of the European Water Polo Championship in Split, the seagull Roko, was then presented.

The program was hosted by Mirta Šurjak and Marko Šapit, with a live television broadcast. The central part of the event, the draw itself, started with the draw of groups for the women's part of the tournament. Recall, both Russian national teams were eliminated from the tournament, so there were small changes in the strong groups.

The balls were drawn by two special guests. They were Josip Pavić, our celebrated water polo player, and today's envoy of Prime Minister Andrej Plenković. He was named the best player of the tournament 12 years ago when Croatia last hosted.

A touch of handball was brought in by Petar Metličić. Just as they should be, water polo and handball are the two most trophy-winning Croatian sports, they have delighted us countless times with their medals. Croatian water polo female players will play in a group with Germany, Hungary, Greece, the Netherlands, and Romania.


Photo: Miroslav Lelas/PIXSELL

The ladies had the advantage, followed by the group draw for the men's squads. The balls were drawn by the legendary Blanka Vlašić and no less famous water polo player Deni Lušić.

Croatia will play in Group B with Greece, Malta, and France. It could have been easier, but also harder. Slobodna Dalmacija asked the coach Ivica Tucak for a comment.

''For me, this is the most difficult group. The Greeks are Olympic runners-up, and France is certainly the strongest team from the second pot. They have recently beaten Spain, and are growing and investing heavily as they are hosting the next Olympics. Of course, the group is only the first step. It remains to be seen which group we are crossing with''.

The goals of Croatian water polo players are always the highest.

''The wish is to go as far as possible, if possible to gold. I expect it will be a pleasure to play at the Spaladium Arena. I want it to be the wind in our backs to show our best version. Summer is crowded. We must first think about the World Cup, and then we will focus on the Euro'', said Tucak.

The anthem of the European Water Polo Championship called "Until the Last Breath" was also presented, and it was performed by Lidija Bačić, Goran Karan, and the klapa Sebenico.

The groups were formed as follows:


Group A:

1. Germany

2. Croatia

3. Hungary

4. Greece

5. The Netherlands

6. Romania

Group B:

1. Serbia

2. France

3. Slovakia

4. Italy

5. Israel

6. Spain


Group A:

1. Italy

2. Georgia

3. Slovakia

4. Montenegro

Group B:

1. Greece

2. Malta

3. France

4. Croatia

Group C:

1. Romania

2. Germany

3. Spain

4. The Netherlands

Group D:

1. Serbia

2. Hungary

3. Israel

4. Slovenia

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

Wednesday, 13 April 2022

Croatia Learns Opponents for 2022 World Water Polo Championships in Hungary

April 13, 2022 - The Croatia men's water polo team will play in Group B at the 2022 World Water Polo Championships in Hungary (June 18-July 3) against Greece, Germany, and Japan, according to last night's draw in Budapest.

"We got a group in which we are big favorites along with Greece, of course, not underestimating Japan and Germany. I followed Germany this year through the World League games, where they did not impress. However, they have a very good Montenegrin coach, and we will have to be well prepared for them.

We don't have a lot of information about Japan, but it is a team that is always very tough and plays with its own specific pressure," commented coach Ivica Tucak, adding:

"Our wishes are always the same: to go to the end and win a medal. There is time to prepare everything well, and I hope that we will be completely ready to welcome the start of the World Champs."

In addition to the coach, the President of the Croatian Water Polo Federation, Perica Bukić, and a member of the Management Board, Ratko Rudić, attended the draw in Budapest.

"I would say that this is a medium-strong group. We know that Greece is an Olympic finalist, while Germany and Japan are teams of somewhat lower quality, but who know how to play with everyone. Therefore, they need to be one hundred percent ready to beat them. The Croatia-Greece match will mean a lot because the first place brings an easier opponent in the quarterfinals, and, of course, the round of 16 is avoided. The team who will be second in the group, apart from appearing in the round of 16, can also expect Serbia in the quarterfinals, which is one of the strongest national teams in the championship," said Perica Bukić.

Namely, the competition system is the same as always. So, first place goes directly to the quarterfinals, while the second and third-place teams from each group play the round of 16. Croatia's group crosses over with Group A, while the first-place finishers from Group B will play in the quarterfinals against the C3 - D2 match-winner.

"We have a good experience in Budapest, we took the title of world champion there in 2017, and we hope that the games and results after this World Champs will also be good for our national team," concluded Bukić.

2022 World Water Polo Championships - Group Stage

GROUP A (Budapest): Hungary, Brazil, Montenegro, Georgia

GROUP B (Debrecen): CROATIA, Greece, Japan, Germany

GROUP C (Sopron): Italy, Spain, Canada, South Africa

GROUP D (Szeged): Serbia, Australia, USA, Kazakhstan

Match schedule:

21.6. 19:30 Greece - Croatia
23.6. 18:00 Croatia - Germany
25.6. 18:00 Japan - Croatia

The men's water polo tournament starts on June 21 in Debrecen, the second-largest city in Hungary (220,000 inhabitants), to the far east, very close to the border with Romania. The finals are held in Budapest and end on July 3. 

Source: HVS

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

Monday, 11 April 2022

All National Teams Confirmed for 2022 European Water Polo Championships in Split

April 11, 2022 - All teams have been confirmed for the 2022 European Water Polo Championships in Split this summer after Russia was disqualified. 

After the aggression against Ukraine, LEN or the European Water Sports Organization banned all Russian athletes, including clubs and national teams from international competitions. It was then clear that Russia would not compete in the 35th European Water Polo Championships, which will be held this year in Split from August 27 to September 10, reports Sportske Novosti.

Since Russia qualified for this competition in both men's and women's competitions, it was necessary to determine which national teams would come to Croatia instead of Russia.

It was decided that Slovenia in the men's competition and Slovakia in the women's competition would compete in Split this summer. The Slovenian men's team was third in the A qualification group, behind France and Germany, but has the highest average of points scored of all third-placed teams. More precisely, Slovenia was equal with Belarus, but since Belarus has also been disqualified, Slovenia will be the national team to travel to Split.

The women's competition will thus feature the national team of Slovakia, which is the best third-placed team in the qualifications compared to Portugal and Switzerland.

The 35th European Water Polo Championships will be held from August 27 to September 10, 2022, in Split. 

While the event was supposed to be held in early or mid-summer, the European Champs were moved to late summer since the World Championships were moved to May 2022.

“To have our top water polo event in July 2022 would mean an unbearable load for our great water polo players who will need to enjoy a substantial recovery period after an unprecedentedly busy spring. Athletes’ welfare has always been at the core of LEN’s policies, and we shall never move away from our principles. Therefore, the Croatian Water Polo Federation and the local organizers were all very supportive of holding the championships at the end of the summer," said LEN President Paolo Barelli when announcing the dates. 

The European Championships will be held at Spaladium Arena, which has a capacity of 10,000 spectators. 

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

Friday, 4 March 2022

Russia Banned from European Water Polo Championships in Split this September

March 4, 2022 - The European Water Polo Championships in Split will be held from August 27 to September 10, 2022, at Spaladium Arena. 

A special program awaits water polo this year, with the World and European Championships held just a few months apart. Namely, the first to be held is the pandemic-postponed World Aquatics Championships, and after the initial news that the Fukuoka tournament would be postponed yet again this summer, FINA announced in early February that the tournament would go on, but in Budapest instead from June 18 and July 3.

The world's best water polo players will thus compete in Hungary this summer - and just two months later, Split will host the European Water Polo Championship from August 27 to September 10. 

The 16 best national teams in Europe will compete at Split's Spaladium Arena this summer. The draw will take place on April 23. 

European Water Polo Championship, Split, August 27 to September 10:

The European umbrella organization for water sports (LEN) has decided that the Russia water polo team will not play in Split. LEN has banned all Russian and Belarusian athletes from participating in their competitions, both club and continental.

"The European Water Sports Federation (LEN) met yesterday and decided not to invite Russian and Belarusian athletes and officials to LEN events in response to the invasion of Russian forces in Ukraine, until further notice," LEN said in a statement, adding that no LEN competitions would be organized in Russia or Belarus until further notice.

LEN also expressed support for Ukrainian athletes and the Ukrainian people.

"LEN strongly condemns the actions of the Russian government supported by Belarus in its invasion of Ukraine. This act of war has ruined the lives of Ukrainian citizens and is completely contrary to the sporting spirit," LEN added.

In addition, LEN announced that it supports a concrete humanitarian initiative of the Croatian Art Swimming and Diving Associations to accommodate Ukrainian athletes and family members as refugees.

This project, supported by FINA, will allow athletes to continue to train and represent Ukraine in international competitions. This initiative is supported by the Ministry of Sports and Tourism of the Republic of Croatia, and the hosts will be Zagreb, Zadar, Rijeka, and others, according to the LEN website.


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

Tuesday, 15 February 2022

Croatia Water Polo Tops Russia, Secures World League European Final Eight

February 15, 2022 - Croatia has secured its spot in the World League European final eight after topping Russia in Zagreb on Tuesday. 

After Greece, the Croatia water polo team defeated Russia in the second round of the World League Group D. Croatia celebrated in Zagreb on Tuesday 11-9 (1-4, 4-4, 2-1, 4-0) thus securing the World League final European tournament.

However, it wasn't so certain from the start. Russia was ahead 4-0 in the first quarter, and Croatia hit the net for the first time only from their seventh shot! The Barracudas were in disarray until the end of the third quarter. Namely, Russia was up by a considerable 9-5, but fortunately for Croatia, they did not score until the end of the match.

On the other hand, after locking their own goal, Croatian slowly began to gain an advantage. Six and a half minutes before the end of the match, Burić regained hope with a goal for 8-9, while three minutes before the end, Bukić equalized at 9-9.

Burić and Fatović then scored for 11-9 and confirmed Croatia's brilliant turnaround. Loren Fatović was the top scorer with three goals, while Bukić and Burić scored two each, and one each by Vukičević, Žuvela, Benić, and Lazić. Marko Bijač defended brilliantly during the second half and stopped seven of 11 shots from Russia. The Croatia goalkeeper was also named the player of the match.

In the first match in Athens, Croatia defeated Greece 12-11, and with the victory against Russia, secured a place in the final European tournament of the World League, which should be held in Budapest (though this is no longer certain) from April 28 to 30. Croatia will play against the second-placed team from Group C, almost certainly Italy. In the 3rd round next month, Russia and Greece will meet. 

World League, Group D (Round 2):

Croatia - Russia 11-9 (1-4, 4-4, 2-1, 4-0)

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

Monday, 14 February 2022

Croatia Water Polo Gathers for Next 2022 World League Match against Russia

February 14, 2022 - The Croatia water polo team gathered at the Aristos Hotel in Zagreb on Sunday to begin preparations for the 2nd round of the 2022 World League in Zagreb. Croatia and Russia will face off in Group D on Tuesday, February 15. 

The list of 17 players has not changed, except for minor modifications.

"Goalkeeper Marko Bijač will join on the day of the match. Ivan Krapić will not compete in the match after an injury in the previous round of the World League, though he is with the team and training normally, just like Konstantin Kharkov, who does not have the right to play yet. Ante Vukičević and Loren Fatović have just come out of isolation due to coronavirus, but they are also at the preparations," said coach Ivica Tucak.

The Croatia-Russia match is scheduled for Tuesday, February 15 at 6 pm at the Mladost swimming pool in Zagreb, and can be watched live on the FINA YouTube channel. Croatia trained in the late afternoon-evening period on Sunday, two training sessions are planned for Monday, and another relaxing one on Tuesday morning before the match. 

Croatia is in the European Group D of the World League. In the first round, Croatia beat Greece 12:11 away, and with a victory against Russia, it would confirm its placement in the final European tournament of the World League, which will be held in Budapest from April 28 to 30, 2022.

Croatia lineup


Marko Bijač (Olympiacos)

Ivan Marcelić (Jadran)

Toni Popadić (Jug Adroatic osiguranje)


Josip Vrlić (Radnički)

Ivan Krapić (Noisy-le-Sec)

Lovro Paparić (Vouliagmeni)


Luka Bukić (Jadran)

Ante Vukičević (Marseille)

Loren Fatović (Jug Adriatic osiguranje)

Franko Lazić (Mladost)

Ivan Domagoj Zović (Szolnok)

Andrija Bašić (Palermo)


Hrvoje Benić (Jug Adriatic osiguranje)

Marko Žuvela (Jug Adriatic osiguranje)

Rino Burić (Jadran)

Kristijan Milaković (Szolnok)

Matias Biljaka (Mladost)


Coach - Ivica Tucak

Cssistant coach - Zoran Bajić, Jure Marelja, Frano Vićan and Igor Pezelj

Conditioning trainer - Pero Kuterovac

Physiotherapist - Damir Luketić

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

Tuesday, 18 January 2022

Water Polo World League: Croatia Tops Greece 12:11

January 18, 2022 - Croatia tops Greece in the 1st round of the Water Polo World League in Athens. Croatia faces Russia next in February. 

The Croatia national water polo team has finished preparations and played its first competitive match after the Olympic Games in Athens on Tuesday against Greece. It was the first game of a somewhat rejuvenated, and definitely different national team in which there are no more legendary players like Bušlje, Joković, Lončar, Garcia, and Obradović. 

Croatia thus met Greece in the 1st round of the World League's Group D, a strong rival that won the silver medal in Tokyo, which is the greatest success in the history of Greece water polo. 

The Barracudas started the new World League season with a victory, winning 12:11 with a great defense with a player less, and an even better attack with an extra man. 

Before tonight, these two teams had met 53 times, with Croatia being much more successful - 37 wins, 9 draws, and only 7 defeats with a goal difference of 490:377. Croatia's last match against Greece before this was at the European Championships in Budapest, in January 2020, when the Barracudas celebrated 14:11. Greece last beat Croatia in the qualifications for the European Cup, in Split in 2018, when it was 6:4 for Greece. 

World League 2022

Group A: Hungary, Romania, Montenegro

Group B: Germany, France, Spain

Group C: Serbia, Italy, Slovakia

Group D: Croatia, Greece, Russia

Each team in the group will play two games (Croatia plays next in February against Russia, in the 2nd round). The two first-placed teams will compete in the final European qualifying tournament from April 14 to 16 this year. From that tournament, 3 or 4 national teams will advance further, depending on whether the final tournament will be in Europe or abroad. If played in Europe, 3 teams move on because the host of the final tournament acquires the automatic right to play.

The final tournament or Super Final of the World League will take place from July 25 to 30. The hosts of these tournaments have not yet been determined.

Source: HVS

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

Thursday, 18 November 2021

European Qualifications: Croatia Learns FINA Water Polo World League Rivals

November 18, 2021 - Croatia has learned who they are up against in the FINA Water Polo World League European qualifications next year, beginning in January 2022. 

The Croatia water polo team will play against Greece and Russia in Group D to qualify for the Water Polo World League in 2022, which was decided in a draw of European groups held on Wednesday at the International Water Sports Organization (FINA) headquarters in the Swiss city of Lausanne.

In Group A are Hungary, Montenegro, and Romania; in Group B, Germany, France, and Spain; and Group C Serbia, Italy, and Slovakia.

The Croatia national team will play the first match on January 18 away against the gold medalist at the Olympic Games in Tokyo, Greece. The second match will be played at home against Russia, on February 15 next year. After that, Russia and Greece will play in the 3rd round of Group D. 

Two national teams from each group move forward. In the quarterfinals, groups A and B crossover with groups C and D. The winners of the quarterfinal matches advance to the final FINA World League tournament.

Water polo group draw:

GROUP A: Hungary, Montenegro, Romania

GROUP B: Germany, France, Spain

GROUP C: Serbia, Italy, Slovakia

GROUP D: Greece, Croatia, Russia

Coach Tucak announced the list of national team players for the first, short-term preparations (2-3 days), when the Barracudas last gathered for a friendly match against Italy at the beginning of the month, on November 2. Croatia won 12:11.

Croatia and Italy will have the same three-day joint preparations from December 5 to 7, 2021, but this time in Zagreb. Croatia will later travel to Belgrade for preparations with Serbia at the beginning of January 2022. 

Recall, five key players retired from the Croatia national team this year. Already in Tokyo, Xavi Garcia and Paulo Obradović announced they would be retiring from the national team, followed by the legendary captain Andro Bušlje, deputy captain Maro Joković, and center Luka Lončar.

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

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