Tuesday, 22 February 2022

Covid Measures at Croatian Sporting Events Could be Mitigated, Says Capak

February 22, 2022 - Covid measures at Croatian sporting events could be mitigated from next week, says the director of the Croatian Public Health Institute (HZJZ), Krunoslav Capak.

The Croatian Football League has not seen a season so intense for a long time. However, while Dinamo, Osijek, Hajduk, and Rijeka are leading a relentless race for first place in the standings, the stadium capacity has been reduced due to epidemiological measures. Namely, 40 percent of the seats in the stands can be filled, but that could change soon, reports Index.hr. 

Namely, the figures show that the coronavirus pandemic is entering a calmer phase and that mitigating epidemiological measures could therefore be considered. One of these measures is to restrict entry to stadiums. The question of whether to increase the capacity of football stadiums was asked to the director of the Croatian Public Health Institute (HZJZ), Krunoslav Capak.

"Epidemiological measures will be mitigated when epidemiological preconditions are created. As for sporting events, they are also considered. When preconditions are created, measures will be mitigated, but the decision is up to the Headquarters. HZJZ only proposes recommendations," Capak said. 

However, it is unlikely that total stadium capacity will be allowed immediately. It is much more likely that, depending on the epidemiological conditions in the country, the number of fans allowed in stadiums will gradually increase. This will likely not happen this weekend when the Hajduk - Rijeka, and Osijek - Dinamo matches are played in the HNL.

The date when a decision could be made on a possible increase in stadium capacity is March 1. The number of newly infected people in Croatia today is 4334, but the situation in hospitals has stabilized. As the directors of KBC Rijeka and Split, Alen Ružić and Julija Meštrović, said yesterday, there are half as many Covid patients in hospitals as three weeks ago and half as many patients on a respirator.

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

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Sunday, 2 January 2022

2022 Sports Year: One of Busiest for Croatian Athletes

December 2, 2021 - The 2022 sports year will be even busier than 2021. A look at what's in store for Croatian athletes this year.

Behind us is a busy 2021, in which we saw Croatian athletes compete in the postponed Olympics and football Euros, among many other competitions. However, even as packed as 2021 was, the 2022 sports calendar looks crazier. 

While the dates for most of the events are already confirmed, we still await some like the boxing fights for Filip Hrgović, Alen Babić, and Petar Milas. We also expect Stipe Miočić to announce a new fight in the UFC, reports Gol.hr.

2022 Sports Calendar

January - Sljeme, handball, UFC, HNL…
The year traditionally opens on Sljeme in Zagreb. The Snow Queen will be held on January 4 and 5, with the women's skiers on the slalom track on Tuesday. Croatia's Leona Popović is in great shape, which she showed by winning 14th place in Lienz this week, equaling her best career result. 

Men's skiers will compete on Wednesday. Filip Zubčić, who recently won third in the slalom, is in the best form among Croatia's male skiers. There will be no spectators on Sljeme this year.

Handball is also traditional in January. The Croatia men's side opens the Euro against France on January 13, and two days later against Serbia, almost at home in Szeged, Hungary.

Coach Hrvoje Horvat has rejuvenated the national team, and we will see what this new Croatia can do. The two best national teams advance to the second round, and we will see if Croatia will have a spot after the first two games. France or Serbia must fall, and then the victory against Ukraine in the last round takes Croatia further.

The first Grand Slam of the tennis season is the Australian Open, which begins on January 17. Novak Djokovic, if he performs, could overtake Federer and Nadal in the number of GS titles won. So far, all three have 20.

On the last weekend of the month, one of the most exciting seasons of Croatian football in history returns. Dinamo, Rijeka, and Osijek have 40 points each, while Hajduk joins the fight for the title with five points behind.

February - Winter Olympics, Dinamo against Sevilla, Champions League knockout phase
From February 4 to 20, Beijing will host the Winter Olympics. Croatia will be represented in alpine skiing by five competitors led by Filip Zubčić, with representatives in cross-country skiing, speed skating, biathlon, and bobsleigh. We will know the exact number in mid-January.

European club football continues in the second half of February. Dinamo will play against Sevilla in the first play-off match of the Europa League round of 16 on February 17. The return match is seven days later at Maksimir.

Two days before that, the Champions League begins with a spectacle in Paris, where Paris St-Germain welcomes Real Madrid in the most resounding showdown of the round of 16.

March - Vatreni returns
The Croatia national football team returns in the second half of March. Two friendly matches will be played against still unknown opponents. At the same time, three mini-tournaments will define the last three European participants for the World Cup in Qatar.

The draw connected Portugal and Italy, so the current European champions, who did not play in Russia, or the team full of world stars led by Cristiano Ronaldo, will be left without the World Cup.

April and May - return of the WRC, Croatian Cup, and end of HNL
On the first day of April, we will find out who Croatia will play in their World Cup group. Croatia should be in the second strongest hat.

The biggest rally stars return to Croatia from April 21 to 24. The WRC Croatia Rally will once again put motoring on all media headlines.

The end of the Croatian football championship awaits us in May, and on May 26, Poljud will host the final of the Croatian Football Cup for the first time. The Champions League final will be held in St. Petersburg two days later.

Also, in the second half of May, the World Water Polo Championship will be hosted in Fukuoka, Japan. 

June - four Croatia games in 11 days
June is reserved for a big football competition every other year, but as the World Cup in Qatar has been moved to winter this year, UEFA has filled that term with the Nations League.

From June 3 to 13, the Croatia national team will play against Austria, France (twice), and Denmark. Croatia hasn't played that many games in most major competitions in June.

July and August - football and water polo Euros in Split
Croatian clubs will have European qualifiers in the summer months, and all football championships will start a little earlier than usual. The reason, of course, is the World Cup in Qatar, which shifted the complete schedule of football competitions in the second half of the year.

In the second half of July, the postponed World Athletics Championships will take place in the USA from the 15th to the 24th.

At the end of August, Split will host the European Championship in water polo, held at the Spaladium Arena. The Euros start on August 27, and the final is on September 10. The groups have not yet been drawn.

September - Eurobasket and Nations League
Apart from playing the European Water Polo Championship in Split, Croatia will also compete in the Eurobasket at the same time. Croatia placed in Group C and Greece, host Italy, Ukraine, the UK, and Estonia. The first four national teams will advance to the knockout phase and compete in the round of 16.

Champions League group matches have never been played earlier. The competition begins on September 6, when the national teams also play. However, despite the condensed calendar, UEFA's plan is for the entire group stage to take place before the World Cup break.

Croatia will play the last two matches in the Nations Group group only on September 22 and 25, first against Denmark and then away against Austria.

November and December - Winter World Cup in Qatar
The year ends with a bang. The World Cup in Qatar will be played during the winter, opening on November 21 with the final on December 18, a week before Christmas.

The European Women's Championships will be held in Slovenia, Montenegro, and North Macedonia from December 4 to 20, hopefully with another stellar result from our Bronze generation at the last European Championships.

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

Tuesday, 28 December 2021

Croatian Sport 2021: A Year in Review

December 29, 2021 - Croatian sport 2021: a look at some of the top sporting moments from Croatian athletes following the 2020 pandemic year. 

2020 was a write-off in sports, with some of the biggest competitions canceled as the Covid pandemic plagued the world. It was the year that postponed the Tokyo Olympics and EURO 2020, with no sporting event left unscathed by the threat of COVID-19. 

The desperate wait for the vaccine ended at the start of 2021, allowing a slow normalization of the life we were used to, but not without rigorous measures in place to ensure we never revisited what had come before. 

As vaccinations heightened, so did the return of sports, and the competitions we missed in 2020 filled the 2021 calendar year. As a result, athletes worldwide recorded one of their busiest years yet. 

Croatian sport 2021 - a recap of what Croatian athletes achieved this year. 

Olympics & Paralympics

The Olympic Games in Tokyo were the second most successful Olympics in Croatian history! Croatia won three gold, three silver, and two bronze medals in Tokyo, taking 26th place in the overall list of medal winners. Croatian athletes were more successful in Rio 2016, winning five gold, three silver, and two bronze medals.

Croatia won a total of eight medals in Tokyo. Gold was won by taekwondo artist Matea Jelić, the Sinković brothers in coxless pairs, and Nikola Mektić and Mate Pavić in tennis doubles (more on that below).

Silver was won by Tonči Stipanović in laser sailing, tennis doubles team Marin Čilić and Ivan Dodig, and gymnast Tin Srbić, while the bronze was won by taekwondo artist Toni Kanaet and Damir Martin in rowing singles.

 

Croatia was fantastic at the Paralympics, too, winning 7 medals total thanks to Velimir Šandor (silver), Ivan Katanušić (silver), Ivan Mikulić (silver), table tennis (bronze), Dino Sinovčić (bronze), Mikela Ristoski (bronze), and Deni Černi (bronze). 

Football

What a year it was for Croatian football, with many ups, downs, and turnarounds. 

EURO 2020

The Croatia national team recorded one of the busiest years, with World Cup qualifications wrapped around the rescheduled EURO 2020.

Croatia opened Group D of the Euros in London with a loss against England, followed by a draw against the Czech Republic and a win against Scotland in Glasgow to push them through to the round of 16. 

Croatia moved from the UK to Copenhagen to face Spain in the last 16, finally in front of their beloved fans who struggled to travel to the UK due to impossible isolation and testing measures. 

 

Croatia was unfortunately knocked out by Spain (3:5) after an exciting extra time finish. It wasn't the result Croatia had hoped for, but it was a wake-up call for coach Zlatko Dalić to achieve exactly what Croatia did next. 

World Cup qualifications

Croatia's World Cup qualifiers did not begin on a high note in March, with a loss against Slovenia to open the group stage. While expected but narrow victories against Cyprus and Malta followed, no one was sure if this Croatia side would even have a chance at qualifying for Qatar next year. 

A 0:0 draw to Russia in September and 0:1 win against Slovakia brought some hope, though it wasn't until beating Slovenia 3:0 at home that Croatia started looking like the team we knew them to be. Croatia proceeded with wins against Cyprus, a draw against Slovakia, a blowout victory against Malta, and a crucial 1:0 win against Russia at a sold-out Poljud to qualify directly for the 2022 World Cup in Qatar in the first place! 

 

Before the 2022 World Cup, Croatia will play in the Nations League against France, Denmark, and Austria. 

U21 EURO in Slovenia + EURO 2023 qualifications 

It was an incredible year for the Croatia U21s, which began in March with EURO 2021 in Slovenia. 

Croatia played in Group D, losing to Portugal to open the tournament but winning against Switzerland and England for a spot in the knockout stage where Croatia lost to Spain in extra time. 

Croatia continued the year with EURO 2023 qualifications, in which they remain undefeated with 6 wins against Norway, Austria, Finland, Azerbaijan, and Estonia. 

Their qualifying journey will continue at the end of March next year when they will compete against Austria and Finland at home.

Nine group winners and the best second-placed team will qualify for the 2023 European Championships, while the remaining eight runners-up will advance to additional qualifications.

Dinamo in Europa League

It was an exciting year for Croatian champion Dinamo, who will be best remembered for a wild Europa League comeback in March against Tottenham thanks to an Oršić hattrick, securing their spot in the quarterfinal against Villareal. It was named among the competition's 10 best matches of the 2020/2021 season.

 

Dinamo also went strong into the 2021/22 Europe League season, finishing the group stage with a win against West Ham for second place of the group and the Europa League playoff round in the spring against Sevilla

Croatian Cup 

Not only did Dinamo go on to win the Croatian First League in the 2020/2021 season, but they also won the Croatian Cup, topping Istra 1961 6:3 in the final for the double crown.

Things are looking slightly different this season, as Dinamo was knocked out of the Croatian Cup against Rijeka - not to mention that the Croatian First League standings are closer than ever. 

In the Croatian Football Cup semifinals, Rijeka will play against Osijek at Rujevica Stadium, and Hajduk will face Gorica at Poljud.

This is a great opportunity for Hajduk, which has played 19 consecutive Cup games away. Hajduk last won the Cup in 2013, which is also the last trophy for the Split club. Therefore, Hajduk has the chance to play two home games in the Cup and a historic opportunity for their first trophy in eight years. The last time Split hosted the Cup was in March 2016 in the semifinal match against Dinamo.

The semifinal matches will be played on March 1 and 2, 2022, and the Cup final will be played on May 22 next year at Poljud Stadium in Split.

Tennis

Mate Pavić and Nikola Mektić

It was an absolutely incredible year for Croatian tennis, due mainly to the success of the doubles team Mate Pavić and Nikola Mektić. Not only did these two win Wimbledon before celebrating in the historic all-Croatian doubles final at the Tokyo Olympics, but they finished the year as the best doubles team in the world! 

 

Marin Čilić

It wasn't a bad year for Marin, either, who reached two finals in Russia in one week. While he lost in the Moscow final to Aslan Karatsev, Čilić defeated American tennis player Taylor Fritz in the St. Petersburg Open final to win his second ATP tournament in 2021.

This was Čilić's 35th appearance in the final of an ATP tournament and the third in 2021. He won Stuttgart in June, while he lost in the Moscow final. St. Petersburg was the 20th title of his career! 

Donna Vekić

Donna did it in 2021, too. At the Courmayeur Ladies Open, the Osijek native reached her third WTA title in the ninth WTA final of her career and the first after June 2019 in Nottingham. She won in the final against 18-year-old Dane Clara Tauson.

Donna Vekić won her last of the two titles in 2017 in Nottingham. Before that, in 2014, she celebrated in Kuala Lumpur.

Petra Marčinko

Young Croatian tennis player Petra Marčinko also became the #1 junior tennis player in the world this year! The 16-year-old Croatian became the first player in history to win the most prestigious junior tournament - Orange Bowl - in both singles and doubles competitions and ended the year as the best junior in the world. 

Davis Cup 

The Croatia tennis team became the second-best in the world after Russia celebrated in the Davis Cup final in Madrid. Russia beat Croatia 2-0 in the final, winning both singles matches. After Andrey Rublev defeated Borna Gojo 6:4, 7:6 (5) in the first match, bringing Russia the first point, Daniil Medvedev, the second-best tennis player in the world, defeated Marin Čilić 7:6 (7), 6:2, thus securing the Cup for Russia. 

This year, Croatia had a brilliant Davis Cup campaign, beating Australia and Hungary in the group stage before topping Italy in the quarters and Serbia in the semifinal for a spot in the final this year. Unfortunately, in this tournament, Croatia played without one of its top tennis players - Borna Ćorić. 

 

Croatia thus remains on the two Davis Cup trophies. Croatia won the Cup in 2005 and 2018, and in addition to this final, they played and lost the final in 2016 (against Argentina in Zagreb).

Handball 

2021, unfortunately, started with a Croatia handball fiasco and the worst placement in World Champs history for the men's side. 

The Croatia national handball team said goodbye to the World Championship in Egypt after losing to Denmark in the decisive match for the quarterfinals.

 

The Cowboys thus finished in 15th place, behind Russia and ahead of Switzerland. Before this World Championship in Egypt, the worst Croatian ranking at the World Championship was 13th place from the Japan tournament in 1997.

The poor result forced the resignation of coach Lino Červar, and the Federation announced that Hrvoje Horvat would fill his shoes.

While Horvat tried to revamp the team with young blood, it wasn't enough for the Olympic qualifications just two months later. Croatia handball thus failed to qualify for Tokyo and was left without the Olympic Games for the first time in the last 21 years. This last happened to Croatia in 2000 when they missed the Sydney Games.

But not all hope is lost. Croatia used 2021 to regain their footing and adapt to new systems, which will be seen on the court at the European Championships next month. 

The Croatia women's handball team didn't have the best of luck, either, and failed to advance to the World Championship quarterfinals in Spain.

Water Polo 

Olympics

The Croatia men's water polo team recorded six wins and two defeats in Tokyo, finishing 5th at the Olympic Games after beating the USA 14-11 (2-3, 4-2, 4-2, 4-4) on the last day of the Games. 

Croatia achieved three victories in Group B (Kazakhstan, Serbia, Montenegro) and two defeats (Australia, Spain), taking second place in the group behind Spain.

 

The Croatia water polo team lost to Hungary for a spot in the semifinals of the Olympic Games.

Croatian Cup 

The Jadran Split men's team took home the Croatian Water Polo Cup for the first time!

In their third Croatian Cup final and the third against Jug, the Jadran men's team finally tasted victory. While Jug was after their 17th cup and 66th trophy, Jadran reached its 15th trophy in history, and the first cup, including the former state cup.

And the Jadran's women's team celebrated, too, returning the Croatian Cup women's trophy to Split after five years. 

Basketball 

Olympic Qualifiers

The Croatia men's basketball team, led by NBA star Bojan Bogdanović, failed to qualify for the Olympic Games at the qualifying tournament held in Split. 

In their two group stage games, Croatia was unimpressive, recording a tough defeat against Brazil (94:67) and a close victory over Tunisia (75:70).

Croatia and Germany met in the tournament's semifinal at Spaladium Arena, losing in the last five minutes for the final 86:76. Only the winner of the tournament qualified for the Tokyo Olympics. 

Toni Kukoč Hall of Fame Induction 

Toni Kukoč officially became an enshrined member of the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame.

The induction of the class of 2021 was held in Springfield, Massachusetts. The Split-born former basketball star was joined by other superstars - Chris Bosh, Yolanda Griffith, Lauren Jackson, Paul Pierce, Ben Wallace, and Chris Webber, and coaches, referees, and contributors Rick Adelman, Bill Russell, Jay Wright, Val Ackerman, Howard Garfinkel, Cotton Fitzsimmons, Bob Dandridge, Pearl Moore, and Clarence "Fats" Jenkins.

 

Kukoč was introduced to the Hall of Fame by his former team-mate, Michael Jordan, and Jerry Reinsdorf, Chicago Bulls owner, for the past 35 years.

Rowing

The Sinković brothers recorded another brilliant year, winning the gold medal in coxless pairs at the European Rowing Championships in Varese. 

The celebrated pair continued their winning streak with the Olympic gold in the coxless pairs in Tokyo, securing their third Olympic medal in the third different discipline, after the silver in the quadruple sculls from London 2012 and the gold in the doubles sculls from Rio de Janeiro in 2016.

 

Croatian rower Damir Martin was also excellent this year, winning the bronze medal in single sculls at the Olympic Games in Tokyo. This was the third Olympic medal for 33-year-old Martin, after the silver in the quadruple sculls from London in 2012 and the silver in the singles from Rio de Janeiro in 2016.

Judo 

Following the Tokyo Olympics, the International Judo Federation (IJF) announced the world’s best judokas. The current world champion and the best Croatian judoka, Barbara Matić, took the top spot in the category up to 70 kg, while Karla Prodan came 8th in the category up to 78 kg.

 

The best result in the performances of Croatian judokas so far at the Olympic Games (fifth place in Tokyo) helped Barbara Matić jump by seven positions and became the first name in the category up to 70 kg.

For the first time in one year, Croatian judo had two names in the Top 10 judokas. 

Athletics 

Sandra Perković

Croatia's best female athlete reached her 44th victory at the Diamond League in her career this year with a throw of 65.68 meters in the decisive sixth series. She surpassed the second-placed Cuban Yaime Perez by 37 centimeters, while the Olympic winner from Tokyo, American Valarie Allman, took third place with a throw of 64.51 meters.

 

With this victory, Perković reached Perez in the overall standings of the Diamond League discus throw. Both now have 22 points, while Allman is third with 13 points.

After a disappointing campaign in Tokyo, where she was left without a medal after two consecutive gold medals in London and Rio, Sandra came back stronger than ever. We can't wait to see what she has in store next year! 

Blanka Vlašić retires 

High jump champion Blanka Vlašić announced the end of her career this year at the age of 37.

The celebrated Croatian athlete and high jumper could no longer cope with her injuries, saying goodbye to the sport after becoming 2x outdoor world champion, winning silver at the Beijing Olympics, and bronze at the Rio Games. She has the second-best result of all time and is the Croatian record holder with a jump of 208 centimeters.

Skiing 

Croatian skier Filip Zubčić achieved the best slalom result of his carer, placing third in Val d'Isere at the end of the year!

After placing 6th in the first run, the Croatian skier improved his ranking at the French winter resort, finishing on the podium in third place. He was impeccable in the lower part of the track and entered the finish line as the first-place finisher.

 

Zubčić's best slalom ranking in the World Cup before this was fifth place.

Croatia Rally

The 2021 Croatia Rally, the first-ever in the country, was watched by more than 100 million people in more than 150 countries. 

The current and seven-time world champion Frenchman Sebastien Ogier (Toyota) won the first edition of the Croatia Rally, the third World Rally Championship, driven on the local roads of Zagreb, Karlovac, and Krapina-Zagorje counties, and the City of Zagreb. 

 

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

Sunday, 3 January 2021

Croatian Sport 2021: What Awaits Us this Year?

January 3, 2020 - Croatian sport 2021 - a look at the competitions we have to look forward to this year. 

At this time last year, we were excited about all that 2020 had in store, which included the football Euros and the Olympic Games in Tokyo. 

But, as we all know, a little something called COVID-19 changed our plans, and most major competitions have been moved to this year. 

Numerous world championships have been postponed to 2022

The consequences of COVID will be felt for a long time to come. Some of the big competitions that were supposed to be played in 2021 have already been postponed to 2022 because they were supplanted by those that didn’t occur in 2020. Among them are the World Championships in Athletics in the US and the World Championships in water sports in Japan. The World Indoor Athletics Championships in Nanjing have been postponed until 2023.

However, this year will be one of the most demanding yet. In addition to the football Euros, Copa America, and the Olympic and Paralympic Games, the 2021 World Water Sports Championships will be held in December in Abu Dhabi. Of course, all under the assumption that we avoid new cancellations until then.

Handball at the end of 2020 and the beginning of 2021

Without the Olympics and the football Euros in 2020, we were lucky we had handball to keep us entertained. The Croatia women's handball team ended the year with a sensational European bronze medal, the first medal since Croatia's independence. At the same time, the men's side won the European silver medal in January.

The men will again be the first to take action in 2021 at the World Champs in Egypt, which starts on January 14 and lasts until the end of the month.

Summer of sport 

The football Euros will be played from June 11 to July 11, and the Tokyo Olympics from July 23 to August 8. Until the Olympics begin, many more Croatian athletes will try to win a Tokyo spot, such as Croatia's national handball team, water polo team, basketball team, and many in individual sports.

Here's a closer look at what 2021 has in store, as reported by Index.hr

JANUARY

The winter transfer period begins.

On the first day of the new year, the winter transfer window begins in almost all European leagues. Numerous clubs will try to use January to strengthen their teams to continue this unusual season, and some of them will have to resolve expiring contracts for players who, in that case, can go for free in the summer.

World Handball Championships (January 14-31)

Croatian handball players have won five medals at world competitions so far, including the gold from 2003, but they've been without one since 2013 when they returned from Spain with a bronze medal. Captain Domagoj Duvnjak is one of the few remaining from that generation. He was named the best player at the European Championships in 2020, and he will soon lead Croatia in the fight for a new medal.

FEBRUARY

World Club Football Championship (February 1-11)

It was supposed to be played last December but was moved by two months because most of the participants were not yet known as not all continental competitions had been completed. Bayern earned a place by winning the Champions League back in August, Al-Duhail as a representative of host Qatar in September, and Egypt’s Al-Ahly, South Korea’s Ulsan Hyundai, and Mexico’s UANL in the past month. Oceania has decided to send New Zealand's Auckland City to the competition by decree. The South American representative will be known exactly two days before starting the competition because the Copa Libertadores final is scheduled for January 30. Only the semi-finalists are known.

Australian Open (February 8-21)

The pandemic has also disrupted the tennis season, so the first Grand Slam has been moved by three weeks and will begin on February 8.

Ski World Championships (February 9-21)

The most famous Italian ski resort Cortina d'Ampezzo will host the world's best skiers. Croatia will have its trump card for the medal in Filip Zubčić, one of the world's best giant slalom skiers. The championship starts the day after the Australian Open and ends the same day as the tennis Grand Slam.

Dinamo in Europa League (February 18)

After conquering the Europa League group, the Croatian champion is in the knockout phase, and its first opponent is Russian club Krasnodar. The first match will be played on February 18 in Russia, and the return match will take place seven days later in Zagreb. The dates of the last 16 are March 11 and 18, the quarterfinals April 8 and 15, and the semifinals April 29 and May 6. In the same terms, i.e., one and two days earlier, the Champions League's knockout phase is played.

Olympic Qualifiers for Water Polo (February 21-28)

The Croatia water polo team must first complete the World League finals from January 8 to 10, but the main goal of this gathering is to qualify for the Olympic Games. From February 21 to 28 in Rotterdam is the qualifying tournament from which three of the 12 participants will win a spot in Tokyo. Croatia is in the group with the host Netherlands, France, Russia, Germany, and Romania. Four teams from each group go to the quarterfinals.

MARCH

Olympic qualifications for handball (March 12-14)

We will know whether the Croatia handball team will go to the Games only two weeks after water polo. They will have a simpler job because 12 teams are divided into three groups of four, and two national teams from each group will go to Tokyo. Croatia will play against France, Tunisia, and Portugal in Paris.

APRIL

Rhythmic Gymnastics World Championships (April 21-25)

After Tin Srbić, Filip Ude, and Aurel Benović recently brought home silver medals from the European Championships; it is clear that Croatia is not to be looked over at the World Champs.

MAY

End of HNL (May 15)

May is mostly intended for the end of the football season, and the last round of the Croatian Football League is scheduled for May 15. Four days later, the Croatian Cup finals are played.

Roland Garros (May 23 - June 6)

In addition to football, the tennis season lasts throughout the year, and the second Grand Slam in Paris should be played in the standard term.

Europa League Final (May 26)

Another 32 clubs compete, including Dinamo Zagreb. We know that Sevilla will not defend the title because they are in the Champions League's knockout phase. The two best teams will face off on May 26 in Gdansk, Poland, where the 2020 final was to be played before the pandemic moved the final phase of the competition to Germany.

Champions League Final (May 29)

Only three days later we will get a new European champion, and the final will be played in Istanbul. The title is defended by Bayern.

JUNE

Football Euros (June 11 - July 11)

Exactly 364 days after it was originally scheduled, the European Football Championship will begin. There is still a possibility that it will be played in less than the planned 12 cities across the continent, but Uefa is determined to keep the format as is. The Croatia national team is in Group D with England, Scotland, and the Czech Republic, and in the last 16, there will be two teams from each of the six groups and the four best third-placed teams. The Championship opens with Italy and Turkey in Rome on June 11, and the final is at Wembley exactly a month later. The defending champion is Portugal.

Wimbledon (June 28 - July 11)

The world’s most famous tennis tournament is the only one of four Grand Slams not held in 2020. Tennis players return after two years in the standard term, so the final, as usual, overlaps with the European Football Championship final.

Olympic qualifiers for basketball players (June 29 - July 4)

Split is hosting one of four qualifying tournaments for the Olympic Games. The term is the same as it was supposed to be last year. At the Spaladium Arena, Croatia will first play against Tunisia and Brazil. Two of the three teams will advance to the semifinals, facing Germany, Russia, or Mexico. Only the winner of the tournament goes to Tokyo. Croatia's NBA players will participate depending on how successful their teams are in the playoffs, which will be in full swing at that time. However, the selection of coach Veljko Mršić in the previous qualifications for the Eurobasket has shown that it is not all that bad without them.

JULY

NBA Finals (July 22)

The strongest basketball league in the world started two months later than usual, so instead of the first half of June, it will end by July 22 at the latest. The NBA made sure to finish before the start of the Olympic Games, but those who go far in the playoffs will still not be able to go to Tokyo.

Tokyo Olympics (July 23 - August 8)

Like the Euro, the Olympic Games will be held in an odd year for the first time in history. There are many more unknowns, both about the number of spectators and about the competitors themselves. Even if a good portion of athletes is vaccinated or infected by then, the Olympics are a global event in which people worldwide arrive in one city, which will pose special challenges to organizers in the pandemic era. Croatian athletes won a record ten medals in Rio in 2016, five of which were gold, and repeating this result would be a fantastic success. 

AUGUST

Tokyo Paralympic Games (August 24 - September 5)

After the Olympians leave Tokyo, the Paralympians arrive. Croatia won five medals in Rio, two of which were gold.

US Open (August 30 - September 12)

The highlight of the American part of the tennis season is traditionally the US Open, which starts this year on the penultimate day of August. Marin Čilić had his greatest success here in 2014.

SEPTEMBER

Futsal World Cup (September 12 - October 3)

This competition was supposed to be held at the same time in 2020. Croatia did not qualify because they lost to the Czech Republic in the play-offs on penalties.

OCTOBER

World Rowing Championships (October 17-24)

As long as they are rowing, the Sinković brothers will be favorites for the gold, regardless of the discipline. We look forward to seeing them in Shanghai next fall at the World Champs.

NOVEMBER

ATP Finals (November 14-21)

The top eight tennis players and the top eight tennis couples will gather in Turin, which has won the organization of the ATP finals until 2025. Danil Medvedev celebrated in London last year, and in the doubles competition, the title was taken by Nikola Mektić with Dutch partner Koolhof. In 2021, Mektić will play with Mate Pavić, so we can hope for the first appearance of an all-Croatian doubles team at the end of the season.

Davis Cup (November 22 - 28)

Immediately after the ATP finals, the Davis Cup begins, with the participants who reached the finals in 2020. Croatia is one of the 18 national teams that will be divided into six groups. The group winners and the two best runners-up will advance to the quarterfinals.

DECEMBER

World Handball Championships (December 2 - 19)

The Croatia women's handball team was a hit at the recent European Championships, but they will not go to the Olympic Games. However, with the European bronze, they secured a place in the World Cup, played in Spain in December.

This schedule will also include numerous events for which the date is not yet known, such as the clash of Stipe Miocic, who will most likely defend the UFC heavyweight belt against Francis Ngannou in March, or boxers Filip Hrgovic and Alen Babic, who continue their journey to the top of the world boxing.

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

Monday, 28 December 2020

Croatian Sport 2020: A Year in Review

December 28, 2020 - Croatian sport 2020: a look at some of the top sporting moments in this pandemic year. 

To say 2020 was a strange year for sport would be an understatement. Plagued with COVID infections, canceled competitions, and empty stadiums, athletes worldwide were forced to adapt, stay in form, and hope for a better tomorrow. 

The Croatian Olympic Committee revealed that out of the planned 1,089 competitions in 2020, only 230 (or 21%) were ultimately held. But that didn't stop Croatian athletes from showing why there are among the best in the world, even in this abnormal year. 

And in 2020, Croatian athletes won 93 medals at major competitions across all ages - 26 gold, 26 silver, and 41 bronze.

A look at some of the top sporting moments in Croatian sport 2020

Croatia men's handball team win European silver

2020 opened with an incredible run by the Croatia men's handball team at the 2020 European Championships, held for the first time in three countries – Austria, Norway, and Sweden.

Croatia met Spain for their eighth major final ever and third European Championship final and was after the gold, which was the only color missing from their collection of European medals. In front of 10,000 Croatian fans in Stockholm, Croatia fell short against Spain (22:20) and took home the silver medal instead. 

Croatia captain Domagoj Duvnjak was named the player of the European Championship final and the MVP of the entire competition.

 

In Croatian sports fan fashion, thousands of citizens gathered at Ban Jelacic Square in Zagreb the following day to welcome the Croatia handball team and congratulate them on a job well done. 

Croatia men's water polo team took 4th place at the Euros

It was meant to be a big year for Croatia water polo, with the European Championships in Hungary, a potential Olympic qualifying tournament in Rotterdam, and Tokyo Olympics on the agenda. 

The Croatia men's water polo team kicked off 2020 with the European Championships in January and was a favorite for the gold medal after making the European final three times before (and winning in 2010). Croatia did advance to their ninth semifinal in 14 appearances at the European Championships, but was shocked by Spain and ultimately lost to Montenegro in the match for the bronze medal in Budapest. 

 

With a better result, Croatia would have automatically qualified for the Olympic Games but will play the final qualifying tournament in February 2021 to secure a spot in Tokyo! 

Tonci Stipanovic won the bronze at the Laser World Championships in Melbourne

After five days of sailing, Croatian sailor and JK Mornar member Tonci Stipanovic won the bronze medal at the Laser World Championships in Melbourne, Australia, back in February. A total of 42 sailors sailed in the Golden Group, with JK Mornar Split members securing the 3rd and 10th place in the competition. 

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Stipanovic's result was so impressive that the Croatian Olympic Committee named him the male athlete of the year in December! 

Croatian football came together for COVID-19 and Zagreb earthquake 

In March, COVID-19 swept across Europe and escalated, especially in neighboring Italy. The coronavirus pushed Croatia into its first lockdown as restaurants, bars, and cafes closed indefinitely, and arenas around the country prepared for the worst-case scenario. With everyone at home unsure of what was to come next, an earthquake devasted Croatia's capital. 

Croatian football, from the national team to club fan groups, came together to help those most in need during this devastating time.

The Croatia national football team raised HRK 4.2 million for the fight against the coronavirus and to rehabilitate Zagreb after the earthquake.

Together with the Red Cross City Society, Dinamo Zagreb fan group Bad Blue Boys launched the Blue Heart Action to help the elderly, infirm, and chronically ill citizens in Croatia by bringing them food and medicine so that they didn't have to be exposed to COVID-19. Around 500 group members arrived in front of Jordanovac after receiving a message to help only 30 minutes before.

Hajduk Split fan group Torcida aided in Križine Hospital's first-ever move to Firule Hospital, as Križine prepared to accommodate those with respiratory problems caused by the coronavirus. Torcida helped move all institutes, clinics, and departments from one hospital to the other. 

A humanitarian action to help KBC Split combat the coronavirus pandemic called "Breathe as One," organized by HNK Hajduk and "Bilo srce," raised HRK 870,003.59, with a total of 487 individuals, associations, and companies participating.

And that's only part of it. 

Croatian water polo legend Ratko Rudic ended his coaching career

After an impressive coaching career that spanned almost four decades, the most celebrated Croatian water polo coach decided he's had enough in May this year. 

The former Croatia national team coach won nearly everything he could during his admirable career. He planned to say goodbye by raising the Champions League trophy with Pro Recco, but the coronavirus pandemic had other plans. 

Rudic had won 67 medals, both playing and coaching, of which ten were with the Croatia national team from 2005 to 2012. 

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Shortly after he retired, one of the world’s most respected and serious media outlets, The Wall Street Journal, featured Rudic in an article titled “The World's Greatest Coast is Not Who You Think." 

Adria Tour fail

While the intentions may have been good, the debut Adria Tour tennis tournament in Zadar, hosted by Novak Djokovic and Goran Ivanisevic, among others, didn't quite go as planned. But that was probably to be expected, given the COVID-19 pandemic was nowhere near over in June when the tournament was held. 

However, the tournament did manage to get to the final, in which Novak Djokovic and Andrey Rublev were supposed to meet. Unfortunately, Bulgarian tennis player Grigor Dimitrov, who played one match in the Zadar tournament, tested positive for the coronavirus, forcing the tournament to end immediately. 

Even so, Zadar was declared the 2021 European City of Sport by ACES Europe

The City of Zadar won thanks to its sports infrastructure, recreation and sports programs intended for citizens of all ages, encouragement to play sports, and experience organizing prestigious international sports competitions. Zadar made the first online candidacy in this award's history, which has been awarded since 2001 and was among the first to receive results.

In 2021, Zadar will carry out numerous activities with the European City of Sport's signature, all to enter the narrower competition or win the title of the best among the selected.

Former Croatian President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic joined the International Olympic Committee

Former President Kolinda Grabar Kitarovic was confirmed as a member of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) through a Zoom video ceremony in July. 

Grabar-Kitarovic was nominated by IOC President Thomas Bach and was elected by 86 votes to three.

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Slobodan Kadic

“I am extremely honored to be a member of the IOC. This is not only my personal success but also a recognition of all the achievements of Croatian sport and excellent results of Croatian athletes, who represent our homeland in the world as a nation of great talents and hardworking people, who consistently promote the principles and values ​​of the Olympic Movement," said the former president after being confirmed. 

Rijeka secured its 6th Croatian Cup title 

Rijeka celebrated against Lokomotiva 1:0 in the final in Sibenik back in August thanks to the winning goal by Tibor Halilovic in the 76th minute. This was Rijeka's sixth cup title, while Lokomotiva is still without a trophy, suffering two defeats in the final.

The club that has won the Cup three times in the last four years proved once again they know how to seal the deal in crucial moments. 

Ivan Perisic won the triple crown with Bayern Munich

Croatia national team representative Ivan Perisic was an important part of the Bayern Munich team that won the Champions League final in Lisbon, thus continuing the incredible streak of Croatian footballers to achieve the same success. This is the eighth year in a row that Croatia has had a representative in the Champions League final. 

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Bayern Munich also won the German National Championship and the National Cup, giving them the triple crown for the second time ever.  

Stipe Miocic became the best heavyweight MMA fighter of all time

In their third and final meeting, American legend Daniel Cormier was beaten by Croat-American Stipe Miocic at UFC 252, making Miocic the greatest heavyweight MMA fighter of all time.

 

The 37-year-old Croat began the fight as a two-time and existing heavyweight champion, having started his second reign when he defeated Cormier in August 2019 at UFC 241. He held the title for 26 months in his first reign, defending the belt a record number of three times before the American legend Cormier beat him in July 2018. In his decade-long career in UFC, he has scored 13 wins over 3 losses, although he subsequently went on to beat two of the three opponents who had succeeded against him.

Ivan Rakitic retired from the Croatia national team

After 106 appearances and 15 goals for the Croatia national football team, Ivan Rakitic decided to hang up his boots. The national team's vice-captain was one of the key players in Croatia's campaign for the World Cup silver in 2018 when he scored the decisive penalties in the victories against Denmark and Russia.

"Saying goodbye to the Croatia national team is the most difficult decision in my career, but I felt that this was the moment when I had to break and make that decision. I enjoyed every game I played for my homeland, and unforgettable moments from the World Cup will remain among my favorites. I am convinced that we still have a great team with a bright future ahead. I wish my friends and teammates all the international sports luck in the upcoming challenges, and they will have the biggest fan in me," said Ivan Rakitic on his farewell.

Sinkovic Brothers won the silver medal at the European Rowing Championships 

It wouldn't be a year of Croatian sport without Valent and Martin Sinkovic, better known as the Sinkovic Brothers, who won the silver (6.29.46) in the coxless pair final at the European Rowing Championships in Poznan, Poland.

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The Sinkovic brothers won first place in their semifinal group with a three-second advantage over the Italian crew. They were first in all passing times (500, 1,000, and 1,500 meters), and convincingly reached the finals, where they were behind the Romanian team in first (6: 26.52), while the Italians came in third.

Torcida celebrated 70 years with a spectacular light show 

Torcida did not let the people of Split down when they promised a spectacle bigger than Hajduk's 100th birthday. Anyone that made it to midnight that night, and trust me, there were thousands, now have memories that will last a lifetime thanks to the flare-filled spectacle

And what a sight it was. 

 

At midnight, the sky lit pink when Torcida launched flares and fireworks high above to celebrate 70 years of their firm, the oldest organized fan group in Europe. Torcida alone was said to have some 8,000 flares for the event.

16-year-old Croatian skier Zrinka Ljutic achieved an excellent result in her first FIS Giant Slalom Race

Sixteen-year-old Zrinka Ljutic, a promising Croatian skier, achieved an excellent result in the first FIS giant slalom race of her career.

With a starting number 114, she finished the first run in 33rd place, and in the second run, she finished in 21st with the second-best time of the second run.

The FIS races are just below the World Cup races, in which the best skiers in the world participate, and in which the last Croatian representatives were Janica Kostelic, Ana Jelusic, and Nika Fleiss.

With this result, Ljutic won 51.36 FIS points, the most that any Croatian skiers won in their first FIS race. At the beginning of 2020, Ljutic became the best skier globally, winning as many as four gold medals at the strongest international competition for young skiers.

Croatia U-21 side secured a spot at the 2021 European Championships

After a turbulent but successful journey through the qualifications, the Croatia U-21 side advanced to the 2021 UEFA European Under-21 Championships!

After a huge victory against Lithuania in Pula (7:0) and Greece’s victory against Scotland (1:0), the young Vatreni won second place in the qualifying Group 4 for the European Championship back in November, and the results in other groups allowed them to place among the five the best runners-up.

Before the final round, Croatia was in a difficult, almost hopeless situation. After they played 2:2 in Scotland and the Czech Republic defeated Greece, it was clear that Croatia lost their chance for first place.

The only hope for qualifying for the Euros was to get through among the top five runners-up. However, coach Igor Bišćan's side did not depend only on themselves, but on other matches' outcome.

In the end, it all came together.

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HNS

Croatia will thus play against Switzerland, Portugal, and France in Group C of the Euros next summer, one of the most difficult groups in this tournament.

Croatia national team maintained their spot in the UEFA Nations League elite group 

It was supposed to be a magical year for the 2018 World Cup finalists, who hoped to achieve another stellar result, this time at the Euros. But with the Euros postponed until next year and worrying defeats at the beginning of their Nations League campaign this season, we weren't too sure the euphoria of 2018 would linger.

With a fresh squad composed of many promising young talents, coach Zlatko Dalic had to experiment often to find a balance that worked, and it took a while to find a groove that Modric & Co. could manage.

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Slobodan Kadic

Fortunately, even losing 3:2 to Portugal at Poljud Stadium in Split in their final Nations League match in November was enough to keep Croatia in 3rd place, and thus a spot in the competition's top group. 

Croatia has one hell of a year ahead, with 2022 World Cup qualifiers beginning in March before the postponed Euros take place in summer, where Croatia will meet England, the Czech Republic, and Scotland.

Mate Pavic and Bruno Soares were named the best doubles team in tennis

While 2020 wasn't the best year for our tennis stars, there is something we can be proud of - Croatian Davis Cup national team member Mate Pavic and Brazilian partner Bruno Soares were named the best tennis doubles team in the world this year.

Pavic and Soares unhappily finished the group stage at the final tournament in London and did not make it to the semifinals thanks to a worse set-quotient than the remaining two pairs with two wins and one defeat. They came to the O2 Arena with only a 35-point advantage over American Rajeev Ram and Briton Joe Salisbury.

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However, with the defeat of Austrian Melzer and Frenchman Roger-Vasselin in the semifinals, Ram and Salisbury remained behind by 35 points, so Pavic and Soares became the best doubles team in the world for the second time in their careers. Pavic did it two years ago with Austrian partner Oliver Marach and Soares in 2016 with British partner Jamie Murray.

Nikola Mektic became the first Croatian to win the ATP Finals

Croatian doubles star Mektic and Dutch partner Wesley Koolhof won the ATP World Finals title after defeating Austrian Juergen Melzer and Frenchman Edouard Roger-Vasselin 6:2, 3:6, 10:5 in the final match of the season.

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The Croatian-Dutch duo arrived in London as the fifth seed among the eight best doubles teams of the season. On the way to the title, they lost only one match, the third in the group against Kubot and Melo when they had already secured a place in the semifinals.

Interestingly, it was their last match together because they will take on the tennis world with other partners next year. Mektic will thus join his Croatia teammate Mate Pavic.

This was their third final this year and their first title since they were defeated in Marseille and at the US Open. With this victory, Mektic became the first Croatian to win the title at the end of the ATP season. 

Croatia men's basketball team qualified for EuroBasket 2022

The Croatia men's basketball team celebrated 87:72 against Sweden in Istanbul in their fourth-round match of the 2022 European Championship qualifications in November. With their fourth victory in four games, they secured their spot at the EuroBasket in two years.

No matter how Croatia plays in the last two rounds against Turkey and the Netherlands, even if Croatia loses both games, they will finish in one of the top three places in Group D in the qualifiers, leading directly EuroBasket 2022.

 

The last qualifying round is scheduled for February 19-22, 2021, and three of the four national teams will win a place at EuroBasket, which will be held in 2022 (September 1-18). The hosts are the Czech Republic, Georgia, Italy, and Germany.

Filip Zubcic won the World Cup Giant Slalom in Italy 

Croatian skier Filip Zubčić won the giant slalom on Saturday in Santa Caterina, Italy, with a time of 2:15.06 and a 12-hundredth advantage over second-placed Slovenian skier Žana Kranjec.

The Croatian skier finished the first run in sixth place, and a fantastic second run secured him his second World Cup victory in his career. He was the only Croatian representative in Santa Caterina to take over the organization of the two giant slaloms from Val d'Isere, France.

This is Zubčić's best result this season and his second victory in the World Cup. Last season he won the giant slalom in Naeba, Japan, and also reached two other places (Hintestoder, Adelboden).

Dinamo Zagreb made European history 

The Europa League group stage finished at the beginning of December, which saw Dinamo finish at the top of Group K with four wins, two draws, and zero defeats. Dinamo advanced to the last 32 of the competition and made sure they wrote history along the way. 

 

Namely, Dinamo went the longest in the Champions League or Europa League group stages without conceding a goal. Dinamo did not concede a goal for 527 minutes this season. Manchester United was the last club to hold the record, going 482 minutes without conceding a goal in the 2010/11 Champions League group stage. 

Dinamo Zagreb will meet Krasnodar in the last 32 of the Europa League competition. 

Tin Srbic, Filip Ude, and Aurel Benovic won silver medals at the European Gymnastics Championships 

To no one's surprise, Tin Srbic defended his silver medal at the European Championships in Mersin, Turkey, winning on the horizontal bar with a score of 14,600. And he wasn't the only Croatian gymnast to take home a silver medal. 

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Slobodan Kadic

It was the most successful European Championship for Croatian gymnasts because two more silver medals were won in the finals.

Filip Ude won silver on the pommel horse and repeated 2008 when he was also the European runner-up. In the same discipline, Robert Seligman took fourth place. Aurel Benovic also won the silver medal in his first European final in the floor exercise.

It should also be noted that Croatian gymnast Robert Seligman won the silver on the first final day of the World Cup in Szombathely, Hungary, back in October. In the pommel horse final, Seligman received 14,350 points, and only the Kazakh gymnast Nariman Kurbanov (14,600) was better than him to win the gold. Croatia's second finalist on the pommel horse, Filip Ude, finished 4th with 14,000 points just 0.050 points away from bronze.

Croatia women's gymnastics team also achieved a historic result at the European Championships

The Croatia women's gymnastics team fought in four finals at the European Championships in Mersin in December.

Tijana Korent, Ana Đerek, Christina Zwicker, Tina Zelčić, and Petra Furač fought in the Croatia team final. Korent performed on the vault and Zwicker on uneven bars and balance beam in the hunt for individual medals.

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Croatian Gymnastics Federation

The Croatia women's gymnastics team's only individual final before this was achieved by Tijana Korent in the European Championships in Moscow in 2013. Seven years later, Tijana achieved another final, after she was eighth in the qualifiers with 13,383 points.

Excellent results in martial arts

It was a stellar year for Croatia's taekwondo stars, as Matea Jelic won the silver and Marko Golubic and Toni Kanaet won the bronze at the European Championships this year. 

Karla Prodan also won bronze at the European Judo Championships in Prague at the end of November, just a few days after winning silver at the European Junior Championships in Porec.

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Barbara Matic, who won the gold medal at the Grand Slam Judo Tournament in Budapest this year, defeating World and Olympic champions along the way, became the first martial arts athlete to win the Sportske Novosti athlete of the year trophy.  Barbara Matic broke Sandra Perkovic's series of eight consecutive titles. Before that, the most successful Croatian Olympian Janica Kostelic won eight times, Blanka Vlasic has six trophies, and Iva Majoli four.

Croatia women's handball sensational success at the European Championships in Denmark

What a way to end the year! The Croatia women's handball team were underdogs at the Euros this year, shocking tournament favorites left and right. First, they beat Hungary, then defeated the world champions, the Netherlands, and Serbia to win Group C

In the second round, they topped Romania and wrote another beautiful page in handball history because they have never achieved four consecutive wins at the European Championships. Furthermore, Croatian had never defeated Romania at the European Championships, and in four games played before this, Romania won each time.

Even a loss against Norway, who went on to win the tournament, couldn't stop Croatia, who defeated Germany to advance to their first-ever European semi-final against France. 

Croatia lost to France but defeated Denmark in the match for third place, taking home their first European bronze medal

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HRS

This is the first medal in the history of the Croatia women's handball team. 

Not so bad for a pandemic year. 

Illustration by Little Shiva

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

 

Saturday, 30 May 2020

When Will Sport in Croatia Return to Normal? Capak Weighs In

May 30, 2020 - The director of the Croatian Institute of Public Health (CNIPH), Krunoslav Capak, attended a session of the Health Commission of the Croatian Olympic Committee (COC) and spoke about returning sport to normal in Croatia. 

"You know yourself that in mid-May, with the easing of measures, we allowed training for top athletes. The football Cup will be played this weekend, and we also have pressure to let the fans into the stadiums. For now, however, this will not happen," said Capak on HRT, who also commented on the possibility of holding sports competitions indoors:

"Bowling and bowling competitions will start on June 12, and after that, we will consider the possibility of spectators in the stands."

The secretary of the COC Health Commission, the famous nutritionist Mimi Vurdelja, emphasized the agility of the members of the Commission in the beginnings of the coronavirus pandemic.

"We from the COC were the first to start making and sending recommendations to federations and clubs for the protection of athletes' health. I have to inform you that immediately after the appearance of the coronavirus, we received a number from Dr. Capak that athletes can call. We are very grateful to him for that."

Because the virus no longer circulates among us and that Croatia has one of the best epidemiological situations in the world, Dr. Capak spoke with a lot of optimism about the current epidemiological situation in the country, although he never lacks caution.

"We must still be careful because the virus is still there, and it can easily come to us from the outside. Due to tourist motives, we are currently the most open country in Europe, and the situation in our environment is not great - Germany, France, Spain, and hotspots in South America; all this suggests caution."

In addition to making continuous recommendations for preserving the health of athletes, the COC Health Commission intends, in cooperation with partners from the CNIPH, to initiate serology testing of Croatian Olympians and the development of an immunological health card of Olympic athletes. These are 64 individual top athletes and three men's national teams. Dr. Capak promised support in the implementation of the mentioned activities, which, according to the information of the secretary of the Commission, will bring savings of around 200,000 kuna.

The head of the CNIPH anti-doping service, Dr. Roman Latinović, reported that anti-doping testing of athletes in individual sports was launched on May 26, and that football competitions will also begin in team competition. He also reminded of the fact that his service is in the process of implementing the new anti-doping code of the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA).

The proposal of the Secretary-General of the Croatian Automobile and Karting Association, Zrinko Gregurek, was also considered. At a recent session of the COC Council, he introduced the COC's leading body to the foreign practice of installing the so-called tunnels for the disinfection of spectators of sporting events. Praising all the measures to protect people at sports competitions, doc. Dr. Dinko Pivalica said that, regardless of the external decontamination of those who enter, this method cannot eliminate asymptomatic phenomena.

Therefore, the COC Health Commission unanimously supported the conclusion of its president, Dr. Miran Martinac, who said:

"We consider this type of prevention desirable for all closed spaces, but experts should give the final word on this, i.e., epidemiologists, from whom we asked for an expert opinion."

At the end of the session, a proposal was agreed to hold a roundtable meeting on June 17, which should be attended by the Minister of Health in the Government of the Republic of Croatia Vili Beroš, CNIPH Director Krunoslav Capak, State Secretary of the Central State Office for Sports Tomislav Družak and COC President Zlatko Mateša in the role of host, but also a representative of WADA.

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

 

Thursday, 23 January 2020

Big Day for Croatian Sport: Back-to-Back Euro Semifinals for Water Polo and Handball

January 23, 2020 - Friday is a great day for Croatian sport, as Croatia’s water polo and handball teams will play in the semifinals of the European Championships.

Namely, the Croatia water polo team will play the semifinal of the European Championship against Spain at 5:30 pm in Budapest, and half an hour later, the handball team will play against Norway in the semifinal of the European Championship in Stockholm. 

Originally, Croatia water polo was supposed to play at 7 pm, while handball was to play from 8:30 pm, but due to the demands of the hosts of both tournaments, it turned out that both matches will be played earlier.

For both teams, this will be the ninth semifinal in 14 appearances at the European Championship, while the Croatia water polo team has been more successful thus far.

The "Barracudas" made it to the final three times and won the European throne in 2010 in Croatia, while the "Cowboys" advanced from the semi-finals twice, but lost in the finals both times, in 2008 and 2010. In the first final in 2008, Croatia lost to Denmark (20-24), and two years later, Croatia lost to France (21-25).

The Croatia water polo team has won a total of 14 medals at the Olympics, World and European Championships, with gold medals in all three major competitions. Recall, they won the Olympic gold in 2012 in London, have two gold medals from the World Championships in 2017 (Budapest) and 2007 (Melbourne), and one gold medal from the European Championship 10 years ago.

The Croatia handball team has 13 Olympic, World, and European Championship medals, with two Olympic (2004, 1996) and world gold medals (2003), and two silver and three bronze medals at the Euros. 

Croatia water polo results in Euro semifinals:

1995 (Vienna): Croatia - Hungary 8-11 (4th place)

1997 (Seville): Croatia - Yugoslavia 7-8 (4th place)

1999 (Florence): Croatia - Greece 10-7 (2nd place)

2001 (Budapest): Croatia - Yugoslavia 6-8 (4th place)

2003 (Kranj): Croatia - Hungary 10-9 (2nd place)

2008 (Malaga): Croatia - Montenegro 7-9 (4th place)

2010 (Zagreb): Croatia - Serbia 10-9 (1st place)

2018 (Barcelona): Croatia - Serbia 7-9 (3rd place)

2020 (Budapest): Croatia - Spain (?)

Croatia handball results in Euro semifinals:

1994 (Porto): Croatia - Sweden 21-24 (3rd place)

2004 (Ljubljana): Croatia - 25-27 (4th place)

2006 (Zurich): Croatia - France 23-29 (4th place)

2008 (Lillehammer): Croatia - France 24-23 (2nd place)

2010 (Vienna): Croatia - Poland 24-21 (2nd place)

2012 (Belgrade): Croatia - Serbia 22-26 (3rd place)

2014 (Copenhagen): Croatia - Denmark 27-29 (4th place)

2016 (Krakow): Croatia - Spain 29-33 (3rd place)

2020 (Stockholm): Croatia - Norway (?)

Source: HRT

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

Thursday, 2 January 2020

Croatian Sport 2020: A Look at Year Ahead

January 2, 2019 -  After reviewing 2019 in Croatian sport, a look at the year ahead.

A remarkable year in Croatian sport lies ahead. It is the year of the Summer Olympic Games in Tokyo, and the Euros in handball, water polo, and football - but that doesn’t even scratch the surface. 

A closer look at 2020 in Croatian sport. 

The first weekend of 2020 will kick off with the always exciting ski spectacle on Sljeme in Zagreb - the Audi FIS Ski World Cup “Snow Queen Trophy” 2020. Namely, on Saturday, January 4, the women's slalom will feature in the program, while a day later, the men will take the stage. Croatian skiers will compete in both of these races.

Leona Popovic is the biggest expectation in the women's competition after she won the first slalom points in her career in Lienz, Austria, not even one week ago. However, Croatia has a respectable team of skiers, as evidenced by the fact that three Croatian representatives have finished with points twice this season, which many nations cannot boast.

The first-ever ATP Cup will take place across Australia in Brisbane, Perth and Sydney from January 3 to 12. The Croatia national team will play in Sydney against Argentina and Poland. Borna Coric, Marin Cilic and Viktor Galovic will represent Croatia. Croatia’s tennis players will continue their stay in Australia for the Australian Open in Melbourne from January 14 to 27. 

Croatia handball is next to steal the show, as from January 9 to 26, the European Championships are held. For the first time in history, the Euros will be played in three countries (Austria, Norway, Sweden) with 24 national teams. The ‘Cowboys' are placed in Group A in Graz, where their opponents will be Montenegro (January 9), Belarus (January 11) and Serbia (January 13). The two best teams move to the second round to be played in Vienna, and from that newly formed group (which will likely include Spain and Germany), the two top-ranked teams go to the semifinals.

Nearly running parallel to the Handball Euros is the European Water Polo Championship, which will be played in Budapest. This competition begins on January 14 and ends on January 26, with the ‘Barakudas’ in Group A against Germany (January 14), Montenegro (January 16) and Slovakia (January 18). The winner of the group goes directly to the quarterfinals, and the second and third go to the playoffs against Group C, hosted by Hungary, Spain, Turkey and Malta.

The second half of the Croatian First League returns earlier than ever, on January 31, with the match between Inter Zapresic and Istra 1961. The other games of the 20th round will be played in February.

Croatian football will be in focus in the first half of February, because in addition to the Championship, the Croatian Cup will continue, where Rijeka and Dinamo are scheduled in the quarterfinals on February 5. On February 12, the semifinals will be played with the winner of Rijeka - Dinamo against the host Osijek, while the other semifinal features Slaven Belupo and Lokomotiva. 

The Champions League knockout phase continues on February 18, followed by the Europa League two days later.

Croatia basketball will begin qualifications for EuroBasket 2021 in February. Coach Veljko Mrsic will again not be able to count on NBA players or those who play in the Euroleague. Croatia welcomes Sweden on February 21 and visits the Netherlands three days later. Turkey is also in Croatia's group, and three national teams will qualify for EuroBasket. 

The Croatia football team returns in March for two friendly games as part of their Euro preparations. The dates, as well as the opponents, are still unknown. On January 31, we will find out Croatia’s remaining rival in the Euros alongside England and the Czech Republic. The Nations League C Playoffs will be played that day, and the winner will play in Glasgow against Croatia in the third round of Group D on June 23. It will either be Scotland, Israel, Norway or Serbia.

April may be crucial for the Croatia handball team. Should the Cowboys fail to qualify for the Olympic Games in January at the Euros, their next exam will be held from April 17 to 19 when the Olympic Qualifying Tournament will be played.

In May, the focus returns to football thanks to the Croatian Championship and Cup, with an emphasis on the Cup final on May 13 at Subicevac, followed by the last round of the Croatian First League, which will be played on May 17.

The second Grand Slam tournament of the season, Roland Garros, begins Sunday, May 24.

In June, we move our attention to the Euros in football, which begins with the Turkey-Italy match on June 12. Zlatko Dalic's side will play two friendly games, one in Osijek on June 1 or 2, and one away in France, as a rematch of the World Cup final and general prep for the Euro competition. At the Euros, Croatia will play against England at Wembley on June 14, while the second and third Group D matches will be played in Glasgow: on June 19 against the Czech Republic and June 23 against the Nations League C winner.

At the same time Croatia is expected to get out of their Euro group, the Croatia basketball team will play in the final Olympic Qualifying Tournament at the Spaladium Arena in Split. Brazil, lead by coach Aco Petrovic, Tunisia, Germany, Russia and Mexico will participate in the qualifying tournament. Only the best of these teams will go to Tokyo.

Days later, tennis fans can rejoice with the return of the most prestigious tournament in the world, Wimbledon, on June 29.

On Friday, July 24, the new season of the Croatian First League and the Olympic Games begin in Tokyo. The biggest sports celebration will last until Sunday, August 9.  Croatian athletes are looking to repeat the medal harvest from 2016 in Rio de Janeiro, where they took home ten medals, five of which were gold.

In August, Croatian football clubs will fight to qualify for the group stage in one of the UEFA competitions. Namely, in the summer of 2020, five Croatian clubs will compete in the Champions League and Europa League qualifiers.

A new edition of the Nations League will follow in early September. The Croatia national team will once against compete in the highest rank.

Shortly after that, the Champions League and Europa League seasons will kick-off for the last time in the format as we know it. Recall, from 2021, there will be 32 instead of 48 clubs so far. At the same time, the last Grand Slam of the season, the US Open, will begin.

This is merely a fraction of what's on in Croatian sport this year. Follow TCN to find out more.

Source: Gol.hr

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

Monday, 23 December 2019

Croatian Sport 2019: A Year in Review

December 23, 2019 - How did this year compare to Croatia’s most successful year in sport? A look at Croatian sport in 2019. 

It seemed as though nothing could quite compare to 2018. It was the year Croatian football became World Cup finalists. The year Croatia brought home the Davis Cup trophy and thus gained sweet revenge on France. A year so successful, we’d never seen anything like it in Croatian history. 

As 2019 began, I was hardly optimistic.

“How could we be so lucky again?”

Fortunately, the year was full of pleasant surprises. It was a year that saw our young talents thrive. A year that saw countless triumphs in both individual and team sports. It was another epic year in Croatian sport.

Here is our  2019 year in review. 

Croatia Handball: 2019 began with the Men’s Handball World Championship, which featured Croatia in Group B. After four impressive wins against Iceland, Japan, Macedonia, and Bahrain, Croatia met Spain to decide the winner of the group. After topping Spain 23:19, Croatia went on to win Group B and continued to the main round of the tournament. Croatia was not so lucky there, losing to Brazil 29:26 and Germany 21:22, which ultimately took them out of the fight for the medal. A win against France for the final game of the main round restored their morale, though a loss to Sweden, in the end, saw Croatia finish the tournament as the 6th best team in the world. Croatia will play in the European Championships next month against Montenegro, Belarus and Serbia in Graz. 

Franko Grgic: Promising Croatian swimmer, 16-year-old Franko Grgic, won two gold swimming medals in the 800-meter and 1500-meter races at this year's World Junior Championships, and was even selected among the five finalists for the Piotr Nurowski Award, which as awarded by the European Olympic Committees (EOC) for the ninth time. Though he didn’t win the award in the end, he made sure he was on everyone’s swimming radar. The PK Jadran Split swimmer had an outstanding August, celebrating two gold medals and achieving new records at the 7th FINA World Junior Swimming Championships in Budapest. After winning the gold in the 800-meter-freestyle while breaking a Croatian record, the 16-year-old swimming sensation became the world champion in the 1500-meter-freestyle and achieved a new world junior record with a time of 14:46.09 minutes. Grgic swam 10.46 seconds faster in Budapest than his best-ever record in the 1500 meters, which was also Croatia's national record. Franko’s previous career-fastest in the 800-meter free was achieved in Zagreb in March, where he swam 7:53.75. In Budapest, however, Grgic was 8 seconds faster, thus breaking the Croatian record held by Marin Mogic (7:51:78). Grgic was thus named the 25th fastest performer of all-time, any age, in this 800-meter freestyle. At the beginning of the year, Grgic won the gold in the 400-meter and 1500 meter at the EYOF in Baku, and also hit the Olympic standard for Tokyo 2020. We can’t wait to see him in Tokyo next summer.

 

Croatia Basketball: It wasn’t the greatest year for Croatia basketball, which failed to qualify for the World Cup in China back in August. However, with new coach Veljko Mrsic on the bench, Croatia still has a chance to qualify for the Tokyo Olympics. The light at the end of the tunnel to 2019 was the welcoming news that Split would be host to the 2020 Olympic Qualifying tournament next June, where Croatia will face Tunisia and Brazil, and crossover with Germany or Russia. It will be the strongest tournament played on Croatian ground since EuroBasket 1989 in Zagreb. But not all was bleak. In the NBA, Croatia captain Bojan Bogdanovic saw a stellar transfer to the Utah Jazz this summer, where he’s been playing the basketball of his career. Ivica Zubac is still a hit at the LA Clippers and Dario Saric is finding his footing better at the Phoenix Suns. Croatia also boasts a record seven players in the NBA this season. To end on a high, two legendary Croatian basketball players Toni Kukoc and Giuseppe ‘Pino’ Giergia have been listed among the 50 candidates nominated for the Basketball Hall of Fame in Springfield, Illinois. 

Dina Levacic: Another year, another swimming success for Dina Levacic! In 7 hours, 13 minutes and 15 seconds, 23-year-old Solin native Dina Levacic completed the Tsugaru Strait to complete the fourth open water channel swim out of the seven in the 'Oceans Seven' challenge. The channel is located between Japan's largest island, Honshu and Hokkaido, and high waves and strong frontal wind accompanied the Croatian swimmer the entire way. The member of the Split Swimming Club set one of her best times and became only the 67th person to complete the Tsugaru Strait.

The ‘Ocean Seven’ is a series of seven international swimming marathons, modeled after the Seven Summits mountaineering challenge. Dina Levačić had already swum three marathon channels from the ‘Ocean Seven’ series before attempting the Tsugaru: Catalina Channel, English Channel (La Manche) and Moloka’i Channel. After the Tsugaru Strait in Japan, Dina will still need to overcome the North Channel between Northern Ireland and Scotland, the Strait of Gibraltar between Europe and Africa and the Cook Strait in New Zealand.

Croatia Football: On the heels of the greatest sporting success in Croatian history, the Croatia football team did not disappoint this year. Croatia’s Euro 2020 qualifiers kicked off back in March against Azerbaijan, where they won 2:1 at home. A shocking loss to Hungary stirred the pot, though wins against Wales and Slovakia put Croatia back on their feet. Draws to Wales and Azerbaijan complicated Croatia’s road to the Euros only slightly, as big wins against Hungary and Slovakia in the return games sealed the deal. Croatia not only qualified for the Euros next summer, but they finished at the top of their qualifying group. 2019 was also a pivotal year for Croatian football, as it will be remembered as the year the national team returned to Poljud stadium in Split for the first time since 2015. Croatia played to a sold-out stadium and coach Zlatko Dalic called it the best atmosphere they’d experienced. The Euros await Croatia next year, where they will face England, the Czech Republic, and the winner of the Nations League C (Norway/Serbia v Scotland/Israel). 

Dinamo Zagreb: It was another successful year for Dinamo Zagreb, who clinched the Croatian Championship title for the 20th time back in April after defeating Slaven Belupo. Dinamo secured the title six rounds before the end of the season and 23 points ahead of Rijeka in second. While Rijeka went on to win the Croatian Cup, Dinamo went on to have an impressive Champions League campaign. After soaring through the Champions League qualifiers and playoff round, Dinamo advanced to the Group Stage against Manchester City, Atalanta, and Shakhtar Donetsk. Dinamo opened their seventh Champions League appearance against Atalanta at Maksimir stadium with a shocking 4:0 victory. They fell to City both times, drew to Shakhtar twice, and couldn’t do itagainst Atalanta the second time around. The Zagreb club finished last in their group and will not continue their European run in the spring. 

Croatia Water Polo: It was a busy year for the Croatia water polo team, which began with the Europa Cup in Zagreb, where Croatia failed to defend the title after losing to Hungary in the final. From the Europa Cup to the World League Super Final in Serbia, Croatia went on to defeat Kazakhstan, Australia, Japan, and Spain for a spot in the final against Serbia, where they lost by one goal. The summer continued with the World Championships, where Croatia was again better than Australia,  the USA, and Kazakhstan. They defeated Germany in the quarterfinal but lost to Spain in the semis to miss their chance in the final. Croatia did, however, beat Hungary for third place. Croatia will compete in the Euros next month, where they will have to finish at the top to secure their spot in the Tokyo Olympics next summer. Croatia water polo ended the year with yet another impressive recognition as two team members are among the top seven in the world - Maro Jokovic and Josip Vrlic.

Croatia Tennis: Unlike last year, where Croatia took home the Davis Cup title, this year saw a Croatia squad plagued with injuries and a new coach just days before the tournament was to begin. Croatia didn’t make it out of their group this time around after falling to Russia and Spain, but they can be proud of their individual achievements. Osijek native Donna Vekic made it to the Nottingham final where she lost to Caroline Garcia.  She even advanced to the round of 16 at the Cincinnati Masters, Roland Garros, and the US Open. Petra Martic defeated 19-year-old Czech player Markéta Vondroušová to get her first WTA title at the Istanbul Cup.  Martic also secured the fourth WTA final of her career at the Zhengzhou Open, where she lost to Karolina Pliskova, and also faced Serena Williams in the US Open round of 16. Both Petra and Donna played in the WTA Elite Trophy tournament, which brings together female tennis players ranked 9th to 19th on the WTA ladder. Borna Coric made it to the semifinal of the Dubai Open, Rosmalen, and St. Petersburg, where he ultimately went on to the final. Marin Cilic’s first semifinal in fourteen months wasn’t until the Kremlin Cup back in October. The real star of Croatian tennis this year is Ivan Dodig, who won two ATP doubles titles with Filip Polasek, at the China Open and the Cincinnati Masters. Dodig also won the Wimbledon mixed doubles title with Latisha Chan and defended their Roland Garros title just weeks before. 

Sandra Perkovic: Sandra Perkovic failed to defend the world championship title in the discus throw this year, which she won two years ago in London, but still secured a medal at the World Championships in Doha. Namely, Perkovic won the bronze medal after throwing 66.72 meters in the first series of the finals, while Cubans Yaime Perez and Denia Caballero were the gold and silver medalists. This was Sandra’s fourth medal at the World Championships. Sandra became the world champion in Moscow in 2013 and London in 2017 and won the silver in Beijing in 2015. In addition to four world championship medals, Perkovic is a two-time Olympic gold medalist and five-time European champion.

Croatia Gymnastics: It was another big year for Tin Srbic, who won the silver medal at the European Championships in Szczecin in the horizontal bar event. The Croatian gymnast went on to win the gold medal with an impressively high score of 14.900 points at the World Cup in Paris, and ended the year with a silver medal at the World Championships in Stuttgart. He was also named the best Croatian male athlete by the Croatian Olympic Committee. 

 

Croatia’s best female gymnast Ana Đerek won the gold medal at the World Cup competition in Osijek after a brilliant floor performance, and Robert Seligman advanced to the Cottbus World Cup finals in the pommel horse. 

Sinkovic Brothers: The dynamic duo did it again! The year began with a second-place medal in the coxless pairs at the World Cup in Plovdiv, though it only went up from there. Martin and Valent Sinkovic defended their world rowing championship title in the coxless pairs in Linz-Ottensheim, Austria, qualified for the Tokyo Olympics, and ended the year as the best rowing team in the world, declared by the FISA World Rowing Organization!

Snjezana Pejcic: Croatia's best female shooter Snjezana Pejcic and her Indian teammate Divyansh Singh Panwar won the mixed team air rifle competition to wrap up the World Cup final in Putian, China. Pejcic has already qualified for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, which will be her fourth appearance at the Olympic Games. 

Croatia Taekwondo: The Croatia national team finished their appearance at the European Senior Championships with three medals - silver medals for Lovro Brecic and Toni Kanaet and a bronze for Matea Jelic. 

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Dino Sinovcic: Croatian Paralympian Dino Sinovcic won the 100m backstroke gold medal in the S6 category at the WPS World Paralympic Championships in London. Sinovic won at the Queen Elizabeth Aquatic Center with a time of 1:15.46, ahead of the Chinese swimmer Hong Yang who swam a time of 1:15.47 for the silver, and Argentine Matias De Andrade, who swam a time of 1:16.91 for the bronze. 

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Stipe Miocic: The 36-year-old Croatian-American Stipe Miocic defeated 40-year-old American Daniel Cormier by a knockout in the fourth round of the UFC 241 fight held in Anaheim, California. Stipe thus won sweet revenge on Cormier and brought back the UFC Heavyweight Champion title to Ohio after he lost it to Cormier in Las Vegas 13 months before. The fight between Miocic and Cormier lasted more than 19 minutes, in which the title defender had more significant blows (123-98). 

Croatia Karate: The karate gold and silver came to Croatia thanks to the brilliant Kvesic brothers from Karate club Hercegovina-Zagreb. At this year's European Games in Minsk, Ivan Kvesic won the gold medal while his brother Anđelo Kvesic secured the silver. Croatian representatives returned home with eight medals from the European Games in Minsk - two gold, one silver and five bronze.

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

Tuesday, 1 January 2019

Croatian Sport 2019: What Awaits Us this Year?

It’s a new year with a slew of new sporting events for Croatian sport. Even though there won't be any major football competitions in the summer, or Olympic Games for that matter, we promise there will be no shortage of moments to create history once again, reports Index.hr on January 1, 2019. 

Croatia’s handball players will fight in the World Cup in Germany and Denmark from January 10 to 27. Lino Červar’s team plays in Group B against Spain, Macedonia, Iceland, Bahrain and Japan. The first match is against Iceland on January 11, followed by Japan (January 13), Macedonia (January 14), Bahrain (January 16) and Spain on January 17.

Croatia’s tennis players traditionally open the Grand Slam season in Melbourne. The Australian Open kicks off on January 14 and we can only hope Croatia’s tennis stars like Marin Čilić and Borna Ćorić will start the season as they finished it - with success. It will also be interesting to see whether anyone in 2019 can threaten the best tennis player in the world - Novak Djokovic.

Just a few months later in March, the Croatia national football team will begin their qualifiers for the 2020 European Championship. Zlatko Dalić will lead the World Cup finalists in Group E with Azerbaijan, Hungary, Slovakia and Wales. The first match is scheduled for March 21 at home (Maksimir) against Azerbaijan, followed by a game against Hungary three days later. In the third round, Modrić & Co. will welcome Wales on June 8. On September 6, the team will play against Slovakia away and will visit Azerbaijan three days later. In the seventh round on October 10, Hungary will head to Croatia, and on October 13, Croatia will visit Wales. The last two rounds will be played on November 16 and 19 - Croatia will welcome Slovakia, and since they are in a group of five teams, will have a free last round. 

In other football news, after 49 years, Dinamo will play a ‘European spring’. The Croatian champion will play on February 14 and 21 against Viktoria Plzen in the UEFA Europa League round of 32. The first match is in the Czech Republic and the second at Maksimir in Zagreb. 

Rijeka and Hajduk will meet in the Adriatic Derby on February 16 in the 21st round of the Croatian First League. On March 21, Dinamo welcomes Rijeka in the 24th round, and then heads to Poljud for the Eternal Derby against Hajduk on April 3 in the 27th round. Hajduk will play against Rijeka on April 20 in Split (30th round), and on May 11, Dinamo will go to Rujevica (33rd round). In the final 36th round, Dinamo will host Hajduk at Maksimir for the end of the championship.

Though Croatia basketball has a slim chance of going to the World Cup in China, they await their last two qualifying rounds in February. Croatia will first welcome Italy on February 22, and on February 25 they visit Hungary. In Group J, Croatia currently holds fifth place of the six national teams. Only the top three advance to the World Cup. 

Sandra Perković will try to defend the gold in London at the end of September in Doha at the World Athletics Championships. The gold medal will also be defended by the Sinković brothers in the men’s pairs at the World Rowing Championship in Linz in August.

Here's a list of the sporting events we can look forward to in the new year. 

January

January 5 - February 1: Asia Cup in Emirates (football)

January 9-27: World Cup in Germany and Denmark (handball, men)

January 14 - 27: Australian Open (tennis)

February

February 3: Super Bowl (Rugby)

February 5 - 17: World Championships in Sweden (skiing)

February 14: Viktoria Plzen - Dinamo, the first match of Europa League round of 32 

February 20: Nordic Skiing World Championships in Austria

February 21: Dinamo - Viktoria Plzen, in the Europa League round of 32 (football)

March

March 10: Start of Moto GP (Grand Prix of Qatar)

March 17: Beginning of Formula 1 (Grand Prix Melbourne)

April, May

April 21 - 28: World Championship in Budapest (table tennis)

May 3rd - 19th: World Cup in Bratislava and Košice (hockey)

May 18: FA Cup Final at Wembley (football)

May 26 - June 9: Roland Garros (tennis)

May 29 - Europa League Final (Baku)

June

June 1: Champions League Final at Wanda Metropolitan in Madrid (football)

June 7 - July 7: World Cup in France (football, women)

June 15 - July 13: African Football Cup of Nations (host TBA)

July

July 1-14: Wimbledon (tennis)

July 6 - July 28: Tour de France (cycling)

July 12 - July 28: World Cup in South Korea (swimming)

August

August 25 - September 1: World Rowing Championships in Linz

August 26 - September 9: US Open (tennis)

August 31 - September 15: World Cup in China (basketball)

September

September 20 - November 2: World Cup in Japan (rugby)

September 28 - October 6: World Championships in Doha (athletics)

October, November

October 4 - October 13: World Championships in Stuttgart (gymnastics)

November 18 - 24 - Davis Cup (tennis)

November 17: End of the season for Moto GP (Grand Prix of Valencia)

November 30 - December 15: World Cup in Japan (handball, women)

December

December 1: Completion of Formula 1 (last race in Abu Dhabi)

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

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