Wednesday, 18 December 2019

Maro Jokovic and Josip Vrlic Among Seven Best Water Polo Players in World

December 18, 2019 - Croatia water polo has received yet another impressive recognition as two team members are among the top seven in the world - Maro Jokovic and Josip Vrlic.

Croatia water polo can end 2019 on a high note thanks to its latest recognition. After Sandro Sukno took the Total Waterpolo Player title in 2017 and Andro Buslje and Luka Loncar found their place in the best lineup in 2018, Croatia again has two players in the top seven in the world.

Namely, after Total Waterpolo published all the votes of the jury and the audience (with 30 international coaches and 18 media representatives), Maro Jokovic finished fifth in the overall ranking with 49 points and found himself among the seven best in the right wing position. In the last two years, Luka Lončar has won the award for the best center forward in the world, while this year, his representative Josip Vrlić earned this honor.

"An exceptional season is behind Maro Jokovic. He has taken on a lot of responsibilities and is definitely the best left-hander in the world right now," coach Ivica Tucak told Total Waterpolo.

"It's just impossible to take on Vrlic from two-meters. It's a real pleasure to play with him," said Felipe Perrone, last year's Total Waterpolo Player Award winner, and former Barceloneta teammate.

In an exciting competition for the Total Waterpolo Player title, the highest vote was won by Hungarian Denes Varga (159) ahead of Italian Francesco Di Fulvio (151). In the women's competition, American national team goalie Ashleigh Johnson convincingly took the title.

Best Seven (Men's):

Goalkeeper - Marco Del Lungo (Italy)

Left Wing - Francesco Di Fulvio (Italy)

Left Driver - Denes Varga (Hungary)

Right Wing- Maro Joković (Croatia)

Right Driver - Filip Filipović (Serbia)

Center Back - Aleksandar Ivović (Montenegro)

Center Forward - Josip Vrlić (Croatia)

Best Seven (Women's):

Goalkeeper - Ashleigh Johnson (USA)

Left Wing - Rita Keszthelyi (Hungary)

Left Driver - Roser Tarrago (Spain)

Right Wing - Arianna Garibotti (Italy)

Right Driver - Maggie Steffens (USA)

Center Back - Hannah Buckling (Australia)

Centar Forward - Maica Garcia Godoy (Spain)

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

Sunday, 27 October 2019

Croatia Women's Water Polo Team Qualifies for Euro 2020!

October 27, 2019 - Croatia will have two national teams at the European Water Polo Championships in Budapest next January! 

Namely, Croatia’s female side won their second qualifying match against Portugal in Sibenik on Saturday and thus qualified as one of the 12 women's teams in Europe next year. The victory can be attributed to the second and third quarter of Saturday’s game, when Croatia led for the first time by 2 and 3 goals, respectively.

Portugal led from the start (0:1), though Domina Butic and Ema Carevic quickly reversed the result (2:1). Machado equalized (2:2), to which Miljkovic answered with a goal for the new lead (3:2). Portugal closed the first quarter with a goal for 3:3.

Although Croatia wasn’t particularly good at realizing their chances with a player up, Portugal was even weaker, mostly due to Croatia’s defense, headed by the goalkeeper Ratkovic.

In the second quarter with a 3:3 result, Lousa failed to realize a five-meter shot for Portugal, and from that moment, Croatia began to improve. By the end of that stretch, Domina Butic scored her second goal, and a minute before halftime, Emma Miljkovic led Croatia to a 5:3 advantage. When Ana Miroslavic scored for 6:3 before the end of the match, Croatia could already begin celebrating. Especially when Portugal's best player, Ines Braga, earned her third personal foul four minutes before the final buzzer.

For the third consecutive European Championship and fourth time ever, Croatia will have two national teams in the tournament. 

The Croatia women's national team coach Mario Caleta did not hide his enthusiasm for the win.

“In Sibenik, in front of our audience, we qualified for the European Championships. We got together here for the first time two months ago, and have completed this action in the most successful way possible. First of all, we had a solid defense, which brought victory, and that's why I won't single out any players. They are all deserving. Now the girls will take a little break before reuniting in mid-December to begin preparations for the European Championships. The group is basically ideal; we have the chance for a spot in the quarterfinal, and that will be our goal.”

In addition to the match between Croatia and Portugal, other qualifying games for the European Championships in Budapest were played on Saturday night. Germany, Israel, Slovakia, France, and Serbia also qualified for the Euros next year. 

Other results: Germany - Romania 14:11, Switzerland - Israel 10:16 (6:13), Turkey - Slovakia 9:16 (9:19), Serbia - Czech Republic 19: 8 (25: 6) and Ukraine - France 6:13 (1:20).

The results of the first matches are in parenthesis. 

The European Championships will be held in Budapest from January 12 to 26, 2020. 

Source: HVS

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

Saturday, 27 July 2019

FINA World Championships: Croatia Water Polo Tops Hungary for the Bronze!

July 27, 2019 - The Croatia water polo team has clinched the bronze medal at the FINA World Championships! In a rematch of the final of two years ago, Croatia topped Hungary10:7 to secure yet another medal in a major competition. 

The Croatia water polo team celebrated in the bronze medal match 10:7 (2-1, 2-2, 2-2, 4-2) against Hungary on Saturday. Thus, this is the seventh tournament in a row that Croatia has celebrated with a medal, achieving a new record, reports Gol.hr.

Maro Joković was brilliant with six goals for Croatia, while Luka Lončar, Lovro Miloš, Anđelo Šetka and Hrvoje Benić scored one goal. Krizstian Manhercz and Balazs Harai scored twice for Hungary, while Daniel Angyal, Gergo Zalanki and Marton Vamos each scored one.

Recall, Croatia lost to Spain in the semi-final 6:5 in a poor display on Thursday. In the. FINA World Championships this year in Gwangju, South Korea,  Croatia defeated Australia, the United States, and Kazakhstan in the group stage and Germany in the quarter-final. 

Croatia has thus increased their medal count to seven at the World Championships. The winning series started in Melbourne in 2007, where they won gold, followed by bronze in 2009 (Rome), 2011 (Shanghai) and 2013 (Barcelona), silver 2015 in Kazan and gold in 2017 in Budapest.

Finishing third, however, does not secure Croatia a spot in the Tokyo Olympics next year. Croatia will thus have to finish at the top of the European Championships next year in Hungary. Serbia, Spain, and Italy have already qualified for the 2020 Olympics. 

Spain and Italy will meet in the final. 

More soon...

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

Thursday, 25 July 2019

FINA World Championships: Croatia Water Polo Without Final After Losing to Spain

July 25, 2019 - The Croatia water polo team met Spain for the crucial semi-final of the FINA World Championships in Gwangju, South Korea on Thursday. Croatia lost 6:5 in a poor display which saw them utilize only three opportunities out of the 13 when they had an extra man.

Not only would securing the final bring Croatia one step closer to defending the World Championship title from Budapest two years ago, but it would have placed them among the two best teams in the world - and guarantee their place at the Tokyo Olympics next year.

“We all know what is at stake in the game. We know who and what's standing in front of us, but we know exactly how we got here. Of course, step by step. Our first goals, from winning first place in the group to winning the quarter-final. Now we're slowly raising roles. I believe, I am convinced, and just like all the players who want to win, that we can do that. That we can overcome Spain because that is the only thing we are thinking about now,” said Ivica Tucak before the game. 

In the first three quarters, Croatia scored only two goals, mostly thanks to their indecision, but also thanks to the outstanding goalkeeper Lopez who defended absolutely everything, reports Gol.hr.

Maro Joković scored three goals for Croatia, while Xavi Garcia and Loren Fatovic scored one.

Before this semi-final, Croatia had already played Spain twice this year, both in the semi-finals, in different competitions, from the Europa Cup to the World League. Both times Croatia celebrated. However, as far as the World Championships, Croatian had played against Spain twice before today’s game, and the statistics were always in favor of their opponent, who was better in 1994 in Rome and in 2001 in Fukuoka.

Italy and Hungary play in the second semi-final. Croatia will play for the bronze on Saturday against the loser of that duel. 

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

Tuesday, 23 July 2019

FINA World Championships: Croatia Water Polo Tops Germany for Spot in Semi-final

The 2017 world champions in Budapest will play in the semi-final of the same competition held in Gwangju, South Korea this year! The Croatia water polo team topped Germany 10:8 (1-2, 3-1, 3-3, 3-2) in the quarterfinal for their fourth win of this tournament, reports Gol.hr on July 23, 2019.

Croatia's opponent in the semi-final will be Spain, who eliminated Serbia 12:9, leaving them with no chance of fighting fora medal. Serbia came to the championship without a few first-team standards, and already qualified for the Olympics next year in Tokyo after winning the World League in Belgrade last month. The Croatia water polo team will play Spain in the semis on Thursday at 10 am.

It was harder than expected for Croatia to reach the semi-final against Germany. After they dominated the excellent teams of Australia and the USA in the group stage, they anticipated yet another seamless win. But with a little relaxation and a determined Germany, Croatia’s spot in the semi-final was still uncertain.

In the first quarter Croatia struggled, and after four goals in a row (7:3), they allowed Germany to return to the match and equalize at 7: 7, thus giving one of the world’s weaker water polo teams a convincing shot at a victory. 

The experienced Maro Joković, who scored two quick goals in the last quarter, did not allow their dream to become a reality and gave Croatia hope that they would defend their gold medal from 2017. 

Along with Joković, two goals were scored by Bušlje and Vukičević, and Bijač was brilliant defending Croatia's goal. 

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

Wednesday, 17 July 2019

World Championships: Croatia Water Polo Tops USA, Secures Quarter-final

In the second game of Group B of the FINA World Championships, the Croatia water polo team topped the United States 17:7 (4:1, 5:3, 4:2, 4:1), thus securing first place in the group and direct placement in the quarter-final, reports HRT on July 17, 2019.

This is the second win at the World Championships for Ivica Tucak’s squad after defeating the Australia national team in the first round (14:4). After overcoming the US early this morning, Croatia has thus secured a spot among the top eight national teams before the last match of the group stage, which will be played on Friday, July 19 at 1:30 pm Central European Time, which can also be watched on HRT 2 in Croatia. 

Croatia is looking to defend their World Championship title in South Korea this summer after winning the tournament two years ago in Budapest. Croatia is also fighting to qualify for the 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo.

The most effective for Croatia was Maro Joković, Josip Vrlić and Ante Vukičević, who each scored three goals, while Andro Bušlje, Luka Lončar, and Hrvoje Benić scored two. Croatia’s goalkeepers were brilliant - Marko Bijač collected 11 saves and Ivan Marcelić five.

In the first game of Group B, Australia overcame Kazakhstan 17:8. Thus,  the match between Australia and the US on Friday will decide who wins second place in Group B.

The first team in each of the four groups will directly place in the quarter-final, and the second and third teams from each group will play for a spot among the top eight.

The crossover matches are scheduled on July 21 and the quarter-final games on July 23. Only the two teams that play in the final will secure the Olympic Games next year, and if one of them is Serbia, who already qualified for the Olympics by winning the World League, then the third-placed team from World Championships will travel to Tokyo.

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

Thursday, 4 July 2019

Croatia Water Polo Team Announced to Defend World Championship Title in South Korea

Croatia water polo coach Ivica Tucak announced a list of 13 players who will represent Croatia at the FINA World Championships from July 14 to 27 in Gwangju, South Korea. Croatia will try to defend the World Championship title, which they won in 2017, and secure their spot at the Tokyo Olympics next summer, reports Gol.hr on July 3, 2019. 

Tucak stressed that it was challenging to pick just 13 players out of the 20 who participated in the preparations in Šibenik, though he decided on goalkeepers Marko Bijač and Ivan Marcelić, defenders Andro Bušlje, Hrvoje Benić and Marko Macan, centers Luka Lončar and Josip Vrlić, and drivers Loren Fatović, Maro Joković, Javier Garcia, Ante Vukičević, Lovro Miloš and Anđelo Šetka.

"We have another dilemma, that is, a little problem with defender Marko Macan who broke his hand a few weeks ago and will be initially among the 13 players, but we have the right to make a change before the start, depending on the medical prognosis. The 14th player is Ivan Buljubašić. I want to thank this wonderful guy and top professional who has marked the last ten years of Croatian water polo, and it was not easy for him to travel and wait to see what the situation would be. This is proof of the cohesion in the team because it is not easy to accept such a decision,” Tucak said, pointing out that the ambitions of the World Championships are great because not only do they want to defend the title but it is crucial to qualify for the Tokyo Olympics. 

HVS Vice-President and Executive Director Perica Bukić pointed out that going to the World Championships is the crown of the season, where Croatia has won six won medals, of which two are gold. 

"No other team in history has been able to achieve this. A medal in South Korea would be the seventh consecutive medal at the World Championships. The first goal, of course, is to defend the gold, and we will do everything to get to the final,” said Bukić.

"There are two spots for Tokyo at the World Championships, so the priority is to enter the final. I'm sure that we can and we also have quality, and the atmosphere in the team is superb. I hope we will come back with good results,” said captain Bušlje.

The World Championships is scheduled for July 14 to July 27. Croatia opens the tournament on July 15 against Australia. In the second round, on July 17, Croatia plays against the USA, and in the final duel of the group stage, on July 19, Croatia plays Kazakhstan. 

The first team in each of the four groups will go directly to the quarter-finals, and the second and third place teams will play for the remaining top 8 positions. 

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

Saturday, 29 June 2019

Croatia and Germany to Meet in Split as Final Test Before Water Polo World Championships

June 29, 2019 - After losing the FINA World League title to Serbia in a dramatic final in Belgrade last week, the Croatia water polo team continued their preparations in Šibenik for their next challenge - the World Championships in South Korea. 

When Croatia lost the FINA World League final to Serbia in Belgrade last Sunday, not only did they lose the title, but they missed out on a chance to secure the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo next summer. Recall, winning the World League automatically granted you a ticket to Japan. 

Fortunately, after a thrilling final in Belgrade, the Croatia water polo team has no reason to be ashamed, and they have yet another chance at securing the next summer Olympics - the FINA World Championships in South Korea in July, where Croatia will play in Group B against the USA,  Kazakhstan, and Australia. 

Thus, the team gathered in Šibenik on Thursday to continue preparing for Gwangju. Coach Ivica Tucak counted most of his squad, except for four older players - Andro Bušlje, Maro Joković, Xavi Garcia and Anđelo Šetka - who received 24 hours of rest after the Belgrade tournament and were not required in Šibenik until Friday.

In addition to the players who competed in Belgrade, Tucak called up goalkeeper Toni Popadić (Jug Co), center Luka Lozina (Jug Co) and two wingers Luka Bukić (Mladost) and Ante Visković (Jadran).

Specifically, this means that 20 players will take part in the Šibenik preparations, including goalkeepers Bijač, Marcelić and Popadić; centers: Lončar, Vrlić, Krapić and Lozina; defenders: Bušlje, Buljubašić, Benic, Macan; and wingers Joković, Garcia, Miloš, Bašić, Šetka, Vukičević, Fatovic, Bukić and Visković.

The team will stay in Šibenik until July 4, with the exception that on Monday, July 1, they will meet the national team of Germany at the Zvončac pool in Split from 9 pm as their final test before they travel to South Korea. And if you can’t make the game in Split, you can catch it on HTV 2. 

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Following the friendly on Monday, the Zvonač pool will also host a round robin tournament including the national teams of Germany, Australia, and Kazakhstan. The three water polo nations will meet on Tuesday with the final at 8:30 pm on Wednesday. 

Croatia’s first game at World Championships is on Monday, July 15 against Australia. 

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

Sunday, 23 June 2019

Croatia Water Polo Lose FINA World League Title to Serbia in Belgrade

June 23, 2019 - The Croatia water polo team lost to Serbia by a goal in the dramatic FINA World League final in Belgrade (12:11). 

The 18th edition of the World League has come to an end, and while the final tournament of this competition is officially called the ‘World League Super Final’, the last game, the one for the gold, really was a super final.

Croatia vs. Serbia, two of the world’s water polo giants, met on Sunday in Belgrade to determine not only who would win the World League, but who would secure their spot at the Tokyo Olympics next summer. 

This ‘El Classico’ of water polo was held for the second time this week, after Serbia defeated Croatia by a goal in the group stage of the competition on Wednesday. Thus, Sunday became the rematch of rematches, with more than a medal on the line. 

It’s no coincidence that we’ve seen these two nations often meet - recall, they were finalists in the 2015 World Cup and the 2016 Olympics, and met in the semifinals of the World Cup in Budapest 2017 and the Euros in Barcelona in 2018.

"What is more beautiful than playing at this pool in Belgrade, one of the water polo temples? Another final, against Serbia. Where do you get more motivation? This is why we live for sport. That's what I'm going to tell my players, and be assured that we will welcome the match in that respect,” coach Ivica Tucak said before the game. 

“Today, my boys and I will give our all, our whole heart, and I hope, I think we have a very, very great chance of winning.”

At 4:45 pm, the game was off. 

The first half of the first quarter saw goals by Buljabašić and Vukičević for 0:2 Croatia, and thanks to a goal by Maro Joković with a second to go, the first quarter ended 1:3 for Croatia. 

Serbia woke up in the second quarter - and Filip Filipović tied the game for Serbia at 4:4 with just over three minutes to go. With a minute to go in the second, Serbia led 6:4. 

Croatia won the sprint in the third quarter. Vukičević scored for the equalizer, and Fatović scored to retake Croatia's lead for 6:7! With a minute to go in the third, the game was tied at 7:7, but Bušlje threw a rocket for 7:8 Croatia with less than 30 seconds to go. The third quarter ended at 7:8. 

The final decisive quarter was met with a downpour, which is no surprise, considering Belgrade's dark sky hinted at it throughout the game. With extremely difficult conditions to play in, Serbia managed to equalize for 8:8 with seven minutes to go. Croatia retook the lead thanks to Vrlić for 8:9 with six minutes to go. The final minutes wouldn't go without excitement, and Serbia managed to equalize at 9:9, but Croatia came back for 9:10! 

With four minutes left, Bijač made an incredible save to keep Croatia in the lead, but Serbia came back for 10:10 with three minutes to go. Filipović scored for Serbia - it was 11:10 with one minute to go. But Vukičević saved the day, and brought Croatia back with a goal. Serbia was granted a shot from 5 meters with 20 seconds to go, and scored to take the lead. In Croatia's final attack, they were unable to equalize. The game ended 12:11 for Serbia.

Serbia has thus won the FINA World League and qualifies for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. 

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

Saturday, 22 June 2019

World League Super Final: Croatia Water Polo Tops Spain, Awaits Serbia in Final

June 22, 2019 - The Croatia water polo team is one game away from securing a spot in the Tokyo Olympics next summer after defeating Spain in the semi-final of the World League Super Final in Belgrade on Saturday. 

Croatia and Spain met in the second semi-final of the World League Super Final in Belgrade on Saturday after Serbia beat Australia to secure the first spot in Sunday’s finale. Recall, in the group stage of the tournament, Croatia defeated Kazakhstan and Australia, and lost to Serbia. They defeated Japan in the quarterfinal on Friday. 

Spain was no stranger to Croatia and no easy opponent, even though the two teams met back in April in Zagreb for the Europa Cup finals where Croatia celebrated 12:9. 

“For the last few years, Spain has always tortured us. It’s true that we’ve won, but not without difficulty. Still, I believe we have the strength to pass them today, I believe we are better and we will take this victory too,” said coach Ivica Tucak before the game. 

And defeat them,  they did. 

Croatia opened the first quarter with a goal by Vrlić, which was followed by two goals from Garcia and one from Lončar for 4:0 Croatia with a minute and a half to go. Spain finally got their first goal at the minute mark, though Vrlić scored again to make it 5:1 for Croatia at the end of the first quarter. 

Spain’s second goal came halfway through the second quarter, with their third goal scored with less than three minutes to go. Croatia, however, saw goals by Joković, Šetka, and Fatović for 8:3 at the end of the second. 

Spain came back at the start of the third quarter, and two minutes in they were down by just three goals - though it was short-lived after Buljabašić scored for 9:5. It was 10:7 to end the third quarter. 

The final quarter went two and a half minutes before seeing a goal by either side, and it was Spain to score for 10:8. The result remained 10:8 with just two minutes to go, and Joković hit the post without any luck. Bijač defended the goal brilliantly, and it was Croatia to hold their own for a place in the final against Serbia on Sunday! 

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