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! 

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

Friday, 21 June 2019

World League Super Final: Croatia Water Polo Tops Japan for Spot in Semis

June 21, 2019 - The Croatia water polo team and Japan met on Friday for the quarterfinal of the World League Super Final in Belgrade. 

Croatia continued their fight for a spot at the Tokyo Olympics next year against Japan in the quarterfinal of the World League Super Final in Belgrade, Serbia. In the group stage of the tournament, Croatia defeated Kazakhstan and Australia and lost by a goal to Serbia. Croatia thus secured second place in Group B. 

Croatia kicked off the quarterfinal match with a goal by Maro Jaković a minute into the first quarter, which was followed by another from Andro Bušlje for 0:2 Croatia. Japan came back with a goal by Inaba with less than 5 minutes to go in the first and equalized with just over three minutes to go. Japan even took the lead a minute later for 3:2,  but Bušlje and Fatović put Croatia back ahead for 3:4 at the end of the first quarter. 

Fatović opened the second quarter for Croatia with a goal, which was followed by another for 3:6 with just under six minutes to go in the second. Japan came back with one for 4:6 30 seconds later, and Krapić increased Croatia’s lead to 4:7. A goal by Vukičević made the game 4:8, and while Japan came back for 6:8 with a minute and a half to go before halftime, Šetka and Miloš pushed the result to 6:10 at the half. 

Croatia continued dominating in the third quarter - Fatović scored for 6:11, and by the middle of the quarter, Croatia was leading by six goals (8:14). The third quarter ended at 8:15 for Croatia. 

Croatia won the sprint at the start of the fourth quarter and increased their lead thanks to a goal by Krapić for 8:16 a minute in. Japan came back with two goals to decrease Croatia’s lead to 10:16, but Buljubašić scored for 10:17. It was 11:17 with four minutes to go, but Joković put Croatia back up to 11:18 seconds later. 

With two minutes to go, Croatia led 12:20, and the game ended an incredible 13:20 for Croatia. 

In the semifinal, Croatia will play the winner of Spain v. Kazakhstan. 

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

Thursday, 20 June 2019

World League Super Final: Croatia Water Polo Tops Australia (11:9)

June 20, 2019 - The Croatia water polo team and Australia met on Thursday at 3 pm to play for the second place of Group B at the World League Super Final in Belgrade. 

After Croatia crushed Kazakhstan in the first round and lost to Serbia by a goal the night before, Thursday’s meeting between Croatia and Australia would decide who would finish second in Group B of the World League Super Final in Belgrade. 

Not only do Croatia and Australia have a Croatian connection - recall, the Australia coach is Elvis Fatović, whose son Loren Fatović plays for Croatia, but the two teams are no strangers in the pool. You might remember that Australia knocked out Croatia in the quarters of the World Championship in Barcelona back in 2003, which they also achieved yet again at the World Championship 10 years later. Australia even knocked Croatia out of the quarters at the World Cup in Berlin last year! 

However, Croatia wasn’t about to let Australia taste the victory in Belgrade. 

Croatia was the first to take the lead thanks to a goal by Ivan Krapić, though Australia’s Aidan Roach equalized for 1:1. Andrew Ford put Australia in the lead for 1:2, though Croatia was quick to come back after a Bušlje goal. After Hollis scored with 9 seconds to go in the first quarter, Australia was up 2:3. 

In the second quarter, Australia increased their lead to 2:4, and were even at 5:3 with 45 seconds to go in the second, though it ended 4:5 for Australia before the half. 

Croatia kicked themselves into gear in the third quarter - after Krapić equalized for 5:5, Vrlić, Benić, Vukičević, and Garcia put Croatia in the lead for 9:5. Ford and Putt brought Australia back to 9:7 - and with goals from Fatović and Lachlan Edwards, the third quarter ended 10:8 with the Croatia lead. 

We didn't see a goal by either side in the fourth quarter until there were just over three minutes to go - Vrlić scored for 11:8 Croatia. Australia reduced Croatia's lead to 11:9 thanks to a goal by Blake Edwards with less than three minutes to go. Neither team managed to score for the remainder of the quarter, and the game finished 11:9 for Croatia!

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

Wednesday, 19 June 2019

World League Super Final: Croatia Water Polo Unlucky Against Serbia (10:11)

June 19, 2019 - The Croatia water polo team lost to Serbia 10:11 in Belgrade on Wednesday. 

The ‘El Classico’ of water polo took place on Wednesday between Croatia and Serbia who met in the second game of Group B at the World League Super Final in Belgrade. 

The outdoor Tašmajdan pool, which can accommodate 4000 spectators, was filled to the brim for the highly anticipated spectacle, though it’s not hard to see why -  Serbia v. Croatia. In Belgrade. We think that says enough. 

The best of the best in the world of water polo met at 9 pm on Wednesday and were fortunate to play without rain. Belgrade has been experiencing summer thunderstorms over the last few days, which interrupted Serbia’s game against Australia on Tuesday night. 

Both sides came out fierce in the first quarter. It was Croatia to ultimately come out on top, though both sides could have scored many more goals. By the end of the quarter, Croatia had a two-player advantage but failed to increase their lead. The first quarter ended at 3:2 for Croatia. 

The second quarter saw a much more balanced duel. Garcia scored for 4:3 and Buljubašić for 5:4.

Croatia fell in the third quarter. While they were up 6:5 thanks to a goal by Joković, Serbia equalized at 6:6, and Stefan Mitrović put Serbia in the lead at 6:7. Filip Filipović increased Serbia's lead to 6:8 at the end of the third quarter. 

Serbia was up 6:9 in the fourth quarter, though Joković brought Croatia back to 7:9, and Garcia to 8:9. A penalty by Joković brought the game to an even 9:9 with three minutes to go. With two minutes to go, Serbia was up by a goal (9:10) - but with just over a minute to go, Loren Fatović equalized for 10:10! 

Serbia retook the lead at the minute mark for 10:11, and Croatia had one last attack to equalize but were unlucky. Joković lost the ball in the last 10 seconds, and Serbia won 10:11. 

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

Saturday, 4 May 2019

Croatia Featured in French Film About Gay Water Polo Team (VIDEO)

“Love Who You Want” was the message on Saturday’s cover of L'Equipe, one of the most influential sports journals in Europe. The French daily’s latest edition is devoted to raising awareness about homophobia in sports. On the cover is a photo of water polo lovers in the pool, reports Index.hr on May 4, 2019. 

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L'Equipe cover

The photo comes from a scene in the movie "Les Crevettes Pailletée" (The Shiny Shrimps) which follows a water polo team during their preparations for the Gay Games. According to the script, the Gay Games are held in Croatia, where the award-winning French crew recorded part of the film. The movie was also filmed in France, and some of the material was from the original Gay Games last year in Paris. The movie follows the main character, Matthias Le Goff, an Olympic winner who made a homophobic statement on television. Instead of punishment, he is tasked with coaching the Shiny Shrimps, a flamboyant and amateur gay water-polo team through their qualifications for the Gay Games in Croatia. 

The screening of the film is followed by a campaign against homophobia in L'Equipe. The front page does not want to shock, but encourage discussion, the editorial staff said.

In the new edition of L'Equipe, the testimonies of people who have firsthand witnessed homophobia in sports and the lives of gay professionals can be read. Among them is the story of Justin Fashanu, the British footballer who first opened up about his homosexuality. For eight years he fought against stigmas, accusations and attacks, and in 1998 he committed suicide.

The L'Equipe front cover is the bravest move in major sports media in Europe to report on homophobia. The US, Australia and Canada media have done this already. ESPN recently devoted a cover story to Simon Dunn, an Australian rugby player who competed in the 2014 Olympic Games in bobsledding and openly spoke about his sexuality.

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

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