Saturday, 30 April 2022

Croatia Finishes 6th in Water Polo World League European Qualifications

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

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

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

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

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

Source: HRT

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Friday, 29 April 2022

Water Polo World League: Croatia Competing for 5th to 8th Place

April 29, 2022 - Italy defeated Croatia 8:6 in the water polo World League quarterfinals in Podgorica on Thursday. Croatia will now face France tonight at 5 pm. 

In the first game of the European final tournament of this season's World League, Italy defeated Croatia 8:6. With this result, Italy advanced to the semifinals, while the Barracudas will continue to compete for 5th to 8th place, reports HVS.

Fortunately, this tournament only acts as prep for upcoming major competitions such as the World Champs in Hungary and the European Championships in Split. 

Croatia did not lead for a single moment in the match and only managed to equalize once (Vukičević for 1:1 with an extra man).

Croatia struggled in the attack for the first three quarters and Italian goalkeeper Marco Del Lungo was brilliant in goal, recording 15 saves total. Croatia, on the other hand, had 31 attempts and only 6 goals. 

"Unfortunately, the beginning was not good for us. It’s not easy to play when you lose the whole game. You try to go back, that's where a lot of energy is spent," said Luka Bukić after the match. 

"In the end, we even came to just a few goals, but Italy still managed to score a goal that secured or confirmed their victory. The biggest problem today was certainly in the attack. We need to see where we all went wrong and how to fix it," he added. 

After 1:1 in the first 8 minutes, Italy took the lead at 4:1, 5:2, and then before the last quarter led 7:2. 

In the last quarter, Croatia woke up and even threatened to return completely. In the last five and a half minutes, Croatia used four consecutive extra man plays, and with the goals of Krapić, Burić, Vrlić, and Benić, they were only one goal behind or 7:6 for Italy. There are only 53 seconds left until the end, but the Italian left-hander, otherwise Argentine Gonzalo Echenique scored in the right corner of Marcelić's goal for the final 8:6 for Italy.

Coach Ivica Tucak left behind Jerko Marinić Kragić and Franko Lazić from the players he took to Podgorica. Croatia will play the next match in Podgorica on Friday, April 29 at 5 pm against France who lost to Montenegro on Thursday 

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Wednesday, 13 April 2022

Croatia Learns Opponents for 2022 World Water Polo Championships in Hungary

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

2022 World Water Polo Championships - Group Stage

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

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

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

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

Match schedule:

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

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

Source: HVS

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Thursday, 18 November 2021

European Qualifications: Croatia Learns FINA Water Polo World League Rivals

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

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

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

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

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

Water polo group draw:

GROUP A: Hungary, Montenegro, Romania

GROUP B: Germany, France, Spain

GROUP C: Serbia, Italy, Slovakia

GROUP D: Greece, Croatia, Russia

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

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

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

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Wednesday, 27 October 2021

Croatia Water Polo Future: Coach Tucak Asks for Patience with New Generation

October 27, 2021 - With five key players retiring in the last few months, how does the Croatia water polo future look? Croatia coach Ivica Tucak and Federation director Perica Bukić weigh in on what to expect with the new generation. 

Uncertain days are ahead of the Croatia water polo team after losing five core players since the Tokyo Olympics, reports

A generation change is now inevitable, and Ivica Tucak wants a national team ready for big competitions next year. Recall, the European Championship is played in Split next September, after all. 

The last few weeks have been turbulent for Croatia water polo as five key players said goodbye to the Barracudas.

Already in Tokyo, Xavi Garcia and Paulo Obradović announced they would be retiring from the national team. Next, the legendary captain Andro Bušlje followed in their footsteps, then the deputy captain Maro Joković, and the center Luka Lončar.

Croatia coach Ivica Tucak and the Croatian Water Polo Federation thanked everyone for their contribution and decided to turn a new page. Next up are preparatory matches, in which coach Tucak invited 15 players from three Croatian clubs to the redesigned national team.

"We are entering a new cycle of patience, it will take time, but these are guys who have been going through preparations for several years, and the team will be a little easier, but we have a lot of work to do, that's for sure," said Tucak. 

The director of the Federation, Perica Bukić, is also aware that it will take some time and patience but doesn't believe there will be any problems.

"Of course, the generation change carries its own, and it will take us some time to sort it out, but I personally really believe in these guys, I believe in the coach and his staff, and I expect that Croatia will continue to be competitive and fight for the top and at European and world competitions," added Perica Bukić.

The real challenge will be European Championship, which will take place in Split next year. Tucak is aware of high expectations.

"We will certainly have one national team that will be able to play on an equal footing with everyone, but I cannot promise gold, Olympic, or European medals at this moment. We have a difficult period ahead of us, I repeat, but we must be optimistic, and I believe that we will continue to be at the top of world water polo," added Tucak. 

And while there is no fear for the water polo team at the moment, the problem is much deeper in club water polo.

"Unfortunately, there is a gap in the status of sports in our country, primarily team sports concerning our competitors, Hungary; Italy, Spain, and even Serbia and Montenegro in the segment of professional work, the status of coaches, the status of the best players, national team players, and that is something that I think is the most important problem in the long run," says Bukić.

While there are always young talented athletes in club sports, including water polo, competent institutions must find a way to create new great successes in Croatian sports, concludes

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Tuesday, 5 October 2021

2022 European Water Polo Championships in Split: Brilliant Video to Tempt Tourists Next Year

October 5, 2021 - Less than a year away, the 2022 European Water Polo Championships in Split have been announced with a standout video destined to tempt visitors to Croatia next September. 

At the LEN Congress held in Budapest not so long ago, the Croatian Water Polo Federation presented Split as the host of the next senior European Water Polo Championships in 2022. Along with a presentation by Renato Živković, Secretary-General of the Croatian Water Polo Federation, a promotional short film was presented showcasing the best of Split. 

"The whole idea behind our project, from idea to realization, is our famous water polo player and former national team member Ivan Buljubašić with his wife Marina, done through the story of a little boy Ivo or ‘Ivo, the water polo player,’ and in an amusing, affirmative and interesting way," writes the Croatian Water Polo Federation.

Because a picture is worth a thousand words, it’s best to watch this incredibly well-done short film about what Split has in store for the 2022 European Water Polo Championships. 

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

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

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

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

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Tuesday, 31 August 2021

Croatia U17 Women's Water Polo Goalie Named Best in Europe!

August 31, 2021 - The Croatia U17 women's water polo team took 7th place at the European Championships in Šibenik after beating Israel 11: 6 in a direct match for 7th place.

The applause that erupted from the beautifully filled stands of the swimming pool in Crnica, long after the end of the match for 7th place, is perhaps the most valuable and impressive image of Croatia's performance over the last 10 days in Šibenik.

"Truly a wonderful result, to be 7th at such a strong European Championship in which 19 national teams participated, more than ever. There are usually about 16. We managed to get past an excellent France, a solid Germany, a quality Israel, Serbia, Slovakia. We are sorry about the match with Spain, which ended at 9:7. Step by step, the girls proved that they could play with everyone, including Greece, which finished the tournament in second place. We played equally with them almost until the end of the game. It is a huge step forward in Croatian women's water polo. All this was crowned by Latica's title of the best goalkeeper of the championship, which she really was. She had almost 30 saves more than the second-best goalkeeper of the tournament; she had about 89 saves, which is sensational. Of course, the excellent defense of our national team made it possible for Latica. The girls will now rest, and then we start preparing for the World Cup, which is in Australia in a year, where we hope to be even better, more prepared, and more competitive," said Mia Šimunić, the national team coach.

Croatia also had one of the best players at the recently concluded U17 European Championship in Šibenik.

Latica Medvešek (16) from Zagreb, the goalkeeper of Mladost and the Croatia U17 team, was chosen as the best goalkeeper of the European Championship in Šibenik.

Latica, who was once known as a ‘miracle child’ because she defended the Mladost water polo team at 12, is only getting better with age.

Latica excelled in this tournament, often with a double-digit number of saves, which made it impossible for her to go unnoticed. 

According to the Croatian Water Polo Federation, Croatia thus achieved the goal of entering the circle of the 8 best teams in Europe at the U17 European Championship in Šibenik.

Source: HRT

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Friday, 6 August 2021

Tokyo Olympics: Croatia Defeats Montenegro 12:10, Advances to 5th Place Match on Sunday

August 6, 2021 - Croatia defeats Montenegro in the 5th-8th place playoffs on Friday. Croatia will meet the winner between Italy and the USA in the match for 5th place on Sunday. 

The Croatia water polo team met Montenegro in the playoffs for 5th to 8th place at the Olympic Games in Tokyo on Friday.

After the quarterfinal defeat to Hungary, Croatia has to play two more games for the 5th to 8th place. The first was today against Montenegro, who lost to Greece in the quarterfinals. 

Croatia led the 1st quarter 1:0, while Montenegro came back in the 2nd which ended 5:4 for Croatia. In the 3rd quarter, Croatia and Montenegro were even, ending with 3 goals each. The score going into the final quarter was 9:7 for Croatia. 

Croatia and Montenegro were equal in the final quarter at 3:3 for the final score of 12:10. 

Croatia has already played against Montenegro in Tokyo, recording a victory in the group (13:8), but then it was an important game in the fight to get to the quarterfinals and the stakes were high. Playing for the ranking is something completely different, and after being eliminated in the quarterfinals, the motivation is certainly lower.

Croatia thus plays for 5th place on Sunday against the winner between Italy and the USA. Montenegro will play for 7th place.

"These are now the two worst games ahead of us. They bring nothing, they mean nothing, but we have to play them. We have to try to give as much as we can and try to win. There will be wishes, but we will see how good it will be on both sides," said Barracuda captain Andro Bušlje.

"I don't see the point of all that, we are the only collective sport that plays from the fifth to the eighth place. Unfortunately, the rules are like that and it is our duty to do it to the end," said coach Ivica Tucak.

The semifinal matches are scheduled today in which Greece and Hungary will meet (8:30) and Serbia and Spain (12:50).

Source: HRT

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Wednesday, 4 August 2021

Hungary Wins Olympic Quarterfinal, No Medal for Croatia Water Polo in Tokyo

August 4, 2021 - A shock in Tokyo as Hungary defeated Croatia in the final quarterfinal match in Tokyo on Wednesday. Croatia water polo is thus out of the Olympic medal fight. 

The Croatia water polo team met Hungary on Wednesday for a spot in the semifinals of the Olympic Games. The winner will play against Greece, who easily defeated Montenegro in the earlier semifinal match. 

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

1st Quarter

Croatia won the first sprint of the match for the Croatia attack, which was shot wide by Jokovic. Bijač saved Hungary's first attack to keep the scoresheet clean. Vukičević scored Croatia's first goal for 1:0 with 6:34 to go. Bijač saved Hungary's next attack, and Vargas hit the post straight after to keep Croatia ahead. Varga hit the post and after 2 back-to-back saves from Bijač, Hungary finally equalized with less than 5 mins on the clock. 

Bukić's goal was called back for shooting too close to the goal, and the match remained 1:1 with less than 3 minutes left. Bukić got his chance soon after to put Croatia back in the lead for 2:1 with 2:22 left. 

Varga scored for 2:2 with 1:15 to go. Obradović put Croatia back in the lead with 45 seconds on the clock. The 1st quarter ended 3:2 for Croatia. 

2nd Quarter 

Croatia won the sprint again to start the 2nd quarter, but Hungary was the one to successfully attack and equalized at 3:3. Hungary took the lead for the first time with 5:35 left - 3:4. Joković was quick to equalize for 4:4 20 seconds later! 

Bukić put Croatia back in the lead for 5:4 with just over 4 minutes to go, but Croatia and Hungary played goal for goal, and Hungary equalized for 5:5 with 3:43 left. 

Bijač saved Croatia from another Hungary goal with 2 minutes left, and Hungary shot over the goal in their next attack. But. Croatia was unsuccessful in their next attack with one minute left. 

Hungary retook the lead with 46 seconds left - 5:6. Obradović missed Croatia's next extra-man play with 16 seconds left. Hungary scored for the +2 lead going into halftime. 

3rd Quarter

Croatia lost the sprint to open the 3rd quarter and fortunately scored for 6:7 after the referee consulted VAR to rule Bukić's goal over the goal line. 

Hungary retook the +2 lead again for 6:8 with 5:45 to go. Obradović returned with a goal for 7:8! Bijač saved Hungary's next attack, and Miloš equalized for 8:8 with 3:49 left!

Hungary retook the lead for 8:9 with 3:18 to go. It was 8:10 for Hungary with 1:47 to go. Croatia could not capitalize on their next attack. 

It was +3 for Hungary in the final seconds of the 3rd quarter - 8:11. 

4th Quarter 

Croatia failed to score on their first two attacks of the final quarter, and Hungary scored for +4 - 8:12. Fatović scored to restore some hope for 9:12 with 5 minutes to go. Hungary quickly returned for 9:13. Lončar scored for 10:13 with 4:16 left in the match. 

Hungary scored for +4 with 3 minutes to go. Bukić made it 11:14 with 2:36 left. Vrlić missed a clean shot in front of the goal with just over a minute to go, killing Croatia's last hope of coming back. The game ended 11:15 for Hungary. 

Croatia will now play for 5th-8th place at the Olympic Games. 

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Monday, 2 August 2021

Croatia Water Polo Loses to Spain in Final Group B Match, Plays Hungary in Quarters

August 2, 2021 - Croatia water polo loses to Spain in the fight for first place in Group B on Monday. Croatia will thus play Hungary next in their quarterfinal match, while Spain will meet the USA.

The Croatia water polo team played their last game of Group B against Spain. It was the match for first place in the group, and Croatia only needs a victory to sit at the top. 

Given that Spain is currently at the top of the group, and Croatia lost to Australia, the draw would lead Spain as the first in the quarterfinals.

Coach Tucak announced that the great Paolo Obradović, the hero of the great victory against Serbia, would not play due to a rib injury. T

The first-placed team plays the USA in the quarterfinals, and the second against Hungary.

1st Quarter

Spain opened the game with a 5-meter penalty which they scored for an early lead. Croatia missed on its first attack and Spain came back in their next for a two-goal lead. 

Another penalty for Spain was awarded with 5:30 to go, Bijač saved it to keep the game only 2:0 to Spain. Croatia hit over the game in their next attack. Bijač was brilliant in goal to keep Spain ahead by only two goals with 2 minutes to go as Croatia continued to shoot over Spain's goal. 

Luka Bukić scored Croatia's first goal for 2:1 with less than a minute to go, which is how the first quarter ended. 

2nd Quarter

Both Spain and Croatia missed out on scoring in their first few attacks. The first goal of the 2nd quarter was only scored with 3:46 to go. It was 3:1 for Spain. 

That was the only goal scored in the 2nd quarter, which ended 3:1 for Spain. 

3rd Quarter

Macan scored to open the 3rd quarter and brought Croatia back to -1 for 3:2 Spain. Spain came back for 4:2 with 6:12 to go. Bukić scored a rocket from the outside for 4:3 20 seconds later. Spain went back up to +2 with 5:32 to go (5:3). 

It was 6:3 for Spain, their highest advantage yet, with 4:23 left on the clock. Croatia was unlucky in their next attack to keep Spain ahead. 

Spain made it 7:3 with 27 seconds left in the 3rd. 

4th Quarter

Both sides missed their first attacks to start the final quarter. Fatović scored the first goal of the final quarter for 7:4 with 5:23 left in the match. 

Marcelić was in goal for Bijač to finish the game. It was 8:4 for Spain with 2:41 left. Marcelić saved Spain's final attack to end the game 8:4 for Spain.

This was Spain's 5th win of the Olympic Games. Croatia will thus play Hungary next in the quarters. 

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