Thursday, 18 June 2020

HNL Round 29 Recap: Hajduk Falls to Varazdin, Drops to 3rd Place

June 18, 2020 - The 29th round of the Croatian First League was played mid-week, from June 16 to 17, 2020. This round saw a shocking Hajduk loss to Varazdin, the second-to-last placed team in the standings. 

Istra 1960 v. Inter Zapresic (2:0)

Istra and Inter opened the 29th round in Pula on Tuesday, June 16, 2020. 

Istra's Bosancic scored the first goal of the game 6 minutes in for 1:0. A Grzan penalty in the 34th minute gave Istra the 2:0 lead, and the final score of the game. 

Istra is currently in 8th place with 22 points, while Inter is in the last place with 17. 

Hajduk v. Varazdin (2:3)

Hajduk and Varazdin met on Tuesday, June 16, 2020, at Poljud Stadium in Split. 

Hajduk was down 0:3 at the half thanks to goals by Drozdek (19', 40') and Mamic (24'). Hajduk's Vuskovic came back for 1:3 in the 49th minute, and Caktas made it 2:3 in the 74th, which was the final score of the game.

Hajduk has now dropped to 3rd place with 51 points, and Varazdin is in 9th place with 21. 

Rijeka v. Lokomotiva (2:2)

Rijeka and Lokomotiva met at Rujevica Stadium on June 16, 2020. 

Lokomotiva took the lead thanks to a Kastrati goal in the 36th minute for 0:1. Yakete equalized in the 66th minute for 1:1, and Andrijasevic gave Rijeka the lead for 2:1. Karacic scored a penalty for Lokomotiva in the 84th for 2:2 and the final score of the game. 

Rijeka is currently in 2nd place with 52 points, while Lokomotiva is in 4th place with 50. 

Dinamo Zagreb v. Slaven Belupo (3:2) 

Dinamo and Belupo met on Wednesday, June 17, 2020, at Maksimir Stadium. 

Dinamo was up by two goals in the 37th minute thanks to Kadzior and Ivanusec, though an own goal by Theophile-Catherine made it 2:1 at the half. Mateus scored the equalizer for  Belupo in the 49th minute, and a late goal by Petkovic in the 90th minute gave Dinamo the 3:2 victory. 

Dinamo is currently in first place with 71 points, while Belupo is in 7th with 28. 

Osijek v. Gorica (2:1)

Osijek and Gorica closed out the 29th round on Wednesday, June 17, 2020. 

Maric put Osijek in the lead in the 35th minute for 1:0 at the half. Zaper increased Osijek's lead to 2:0 in the 57th minute, though a late goal by Lovric in the second minute of injury time made it 2:1.

Osijek is currently in 5th place with 49 points, while Gorica is in 6th with 39. 

You can see the full HNL table here.

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

Monday, 15 June 2020

HNL Round 28 Recap: Dinamo Falls to Lokomotiva, Hajduk Back in 2nd Place

June 15, 2020 - The 28th round of the Croatian First League was played from June 11 to 13, 2020. This round saw Dinamo lose to Lokomotiva, draws for Rijeka and Osijek, and a win for Hajduk against Istra. 

Inter Zapresic v. Gorica (0:3)

Inter and Gorica opened the 28th round on Thursday, June 11, 2020, in Zagreb. 

While the first half went without goals, Lovric scored in the 53rd minute for the Gorica lead, and Mundrinski scored in the 78th and 84th for the final score of 0:3. 

Inter is currently in the last place with 17 points, while Gorica is in 6th with 39. 

Istra 1961 v. Hajduk (0:1)

Istra and Hajduk met in Pula on Thursday, June 11, 2020.

Hajduk scored early thanks to a Caktas header in the 6th minute for 0:1, which was the final score of the game. 

Istra is currently in 8th place with 19 points, while Hajduk has moved back into 2nd place with 51. 

Varazdin v. Rijeka (0:0)

Varazdin and Rijeka met at NK Varteks Stadium on Friday, June 12, 2020. 

Neither team was able to score, and the game remained 0:0.

Varazdin is currently in 9th place with 18 points, while Rijeka has dropped to 3rd place with 51. 

Lokomotiva v. Dinamo Zagreb (1:0)

Lokomotiva and Dinamo met at Kranjceviceva Street Stadium on Friday, June 12, 2020. 

The game remained without goals until the 90th minute, after Nikola Moro received a red card and Lokomotiva a penalty, which Tolic scored for 1:0 and the victory. 

Lokomotiva is currently in 4th place with 49 points, while Dinamo is in first with 68. 

Slaven Belupo v. Osijek (0:0)

Belupo and Osijek met in Koprivnica to close out the 28th round on Saturday, June 13, 2020. 

It was yet another game in this round that went without goals and ended 0:0. 

Belupo is currently in 7th place with 28 points, while Osijek is in 5th with 46. 

You can see the full HNL table here

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


Monday, 8 June 2020

HNL Round 27 Recap: Croatian Football Returns with Wins for Dinamo, Rijeka, Hajduk

June. 8, 2020 - The 27th round of the Croatian First League was played from June 5 to 7, 2020, nearly three months after the corona crisis put the Championship on hold. This round saw wins for Dinamo, Rijeka and Hajduk, who take the top three spots in the table. 

Hajduk v. Inter Zapresic (2:1)

Hajduk and Inter opened the 27th round at Poljud Stadium in Split for the first game of the HNL after 88 days on June 5, 2020. 

Inter's Mamut put them in the lead in the 37th minute for 0:1 just before the half, though a Hajduk penalty scored by Caktas and an Inter red card made it 1:1 in the 60th. Hajduk sealed the victory in the 7th minute of added time thanks to a header by Dimitrov for 2:1.

Hajduk is currently in 3rd place with 48 points, while Inter is in 9th with 17. 

Slaven Belupo v. Gorica (0:0)

Belupo and Gorica met on Saturday, June 6, 2020, at the City Stadium in Koprivnica. 

Neither team was able to score, and the game ended 0:0.

Slaven Belupo is currently in 7th place with 27 points, while Gorica is in 6th with 36. 

Varazdin v. Dinamo Zagreb (1:3)

Varazdin and Dinamo met on June 6, 2020, at the NK Varteks Stadium. 

A goal for Ademi in the 13th minute and a penalty for Petkovic in the 18th made the game 0:2 for Dinamo at the half. Obregon made it 1:2 in the 79th minute, though Marin's goal in the 4th minute of added time gave Dinamo the 1:3 win. 

Varazdin is currently in the last place with 10 points, while Dinamo is in first with 68. 

Istra 1961 v. Rijeka (1:3)

Istra and Rijeka met in Pula on Sunday, June 7, 2020. 

Rijeka's Loncar scored in the 5th minute for 0:1 at the half. Colak increased Rijeka's lead to 0:2 in the 70th, though Istra came back with one in the 88th thanks to Peric-Komsic for 1:2. Muric sealed the victory for Rijeka in the 3rd minute of added time for 1:3. 

Istra is currently in 8th place with 19 points, while Rijeka is in 2nd with 50.  

Lokomotiva v. Osijek (0:1)

Lokomotiva and Osijek closed out the 27th round on Sunday, June 7, 2020, in Zagreb. 

The only goal of the game came from Bockaj in the 22nd minute for 0:1 Osijek. 

Lokomotiva is currently in 4th place with 46 points, while Osijek is in 5th with 45. 

You can see the full HNL table here

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

Friday, 5 June 2020

Croatian First League Returns with Hajduk v. Inter Zapresic at Poljud

June 5, 2020 - After a nearly three-month break due to COVID-19, the Croatian Football League returned on Friday for the 27th round match between Hajduk and Inter Zapresic at Poljud. TCN was there. 

While the football season in Croatia continued with the semifinals of the Croatian Cup last weekend, football fans in Croatia could hardly wait for the return of the Croatian Championship. The last game of the Croatian First League was played on March 9, when Lokomotiva celebrated in Gorica 3:1.

Exactly 88 days later, Hajduk was hungry for points to ensure second place and the Champions League qualifiers against the second-to-last place Inter, a club fighting to stay alive. Hajduk had celebrated in seven consecutive games against Zapresic in Split before tonight.

TCN reported live from a much quieter Poljud on Friday, as only journalists and a select few others were invited to witness the return of Hajduk outside of club members. Temperatures were checked upon entering the stadium, and no dilly-dallying was allowed - you were meant to go straight to your seat once inside. 

The pre-game protocol was also a bit different for players, who were not allowed to line-up or touch hands before kick-off. 

While the raging jugo wind and quiet stands didn't help either side on Friday, Hajduk dominated most of the first half - and Torcida even found a way to cheer outside of the stadium in the 25th minute - with fireworks! 

Unfortunately, Torcida's display couldn't help much - Inter's Mamut scored from a free-kick in the 37th minute for 0:1, which was how the first half ended. 

The ref consulted VAR in the 56th minute which saw a Hajduk penalty and a red card for Inter's Soldo. Caktas missed, though was given a second chance after the ref called that the keeper was off his line. Caktas scored this time for 1:1. 

Hajduk spent the remainder of the match in Inter's half, missing key chances for 2:1. And then it happened in the 7th minute of added time - Dimitrov scored for 2:1, which was the final score of the game. 

Slaven Belupo and Gorica will play on Saturday at 7 pm, and Varaždin and Dinamo at 9 pm, while the matches between Istra 1961 - Rijeka and Lokomotiva - Osijek will end the round on Sunday.

The Championship continues without spectators, but since the epidemiological situation in Croatia is good, the return of fans to the stadiums can be expected.

You can see the full HNL table HERE.

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


Thursday, 4 June 2020

Igor Tudor: I Want Hajduk Players to have Michael Jordan Mentality

June 4, 2020 - After several months away, the Croatian First League will return this week with the match between Hajduk and Inter Zapresic at Poljud on Friday at 8 pm.

This means that the pre-game press conferences have returned, but not in the standard form. Hajduk coach Igor Tudor addressed the press via Zoom on Wednesday. We are transmitting the meeting via

What are the expectations and what kind of Hajduk will we see?

"We are all looking forward to the game; that's why we work and live. It's a unique story to play without an audience, and it's never been pleasant for me. It's an aggravating circumstance for the home team. We have to justify the role of favorites on Friday. At the moment, we have 10 games, and we want to win each one. I think the players are in good shape; they are motivated, they are eager. "

Who stood out the most during the break?

"I never like to point out individuals, but there will be three or four new names on Friday. They have imposed themselves during this break, they are here, but in football, everything changes in a few moments. I want to get a winning mentality from the team. Every rehearsal and every addition better. I think this generation is missing that in general, we saw it in Jordan's documentary 'The Last Dance'. I want to see it and we're going in the direction of improving it."

Will there be a loudspeaker at the stadium during matches?

"We'll see. Normally it's not that, it has nothing to do with real cheering, it has pros and cons, it kills that sick silence, but on the other hand, you hear some weird noise. I really hope the audience comes back in a few rounds and we continue going in the right direction."

What is the impact of the break on the state of the team, plans for the transition period and the summer?

"As it is for us, so it is for everyone else. In time, everything will be better, in terms of the whole game. An important segment is the selection of players, and we overestimate the role of coaches in such things. You have to be a magician for that, considering the budgets that Croatian clubs have."

Any comment on the Croatian Cup semifinal?

"It didn't look bad; there was a good rhythm, a good Slaven in the first half, Lokomotiva solved the game thanks to individual class. The referees overshadowed the great game between Rijeka and Osijek; the boys in black were the best individuals there. Osijek solved that game already, but the boys in black disagreed."

What about Inter?

"We looked at them a bit in two friendly matches. We will be asked the most here. We have to run full throttle from the first minute and sort things out as soon as possible. We're going to win."

What about the match schedule?

"The schedule is not tight, and it's good that we have five substitutions. This way, while playing every five days, it's not bad."

Did you hear from Bjelica after his dismissal at Dinamo? In addition, will these referee problems ever change in the HNL?

"Neno is great, the enemy never sleeps, not even across the border, and he was surprised by a neighbor from Bosnia. As for the refereeing, Hajduk has always beared the brunt of the refs, and now that is Osijek. We give them support. In the last 30 years, what should not be happening is happening, the refs who should be invisible are always here. That can change immediately, but a few people decide it. I welcome the suspension of refs, whoever makes a mistake has to suffer the consequences. The HNL has a long, beautiful history around that, but I hope it goes in a better direction as a lot of things in this state are going in a better direction."

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

Monday, 1 June 2020

Croatian Cup: Rijeka and Lokomotiva to Meet in Final

June 1, 2020 - After the semi-final games last weekend, Lokomotiva and Rijeka will meet in the Croatian Cup final on August 1, 2020. 

Croatian football finally returned last weekend, albeit looking a bit different in the corona era. 

Namely, HNS reports that Statehood Day brought the continuation of football competitions in Croatia, and Slaven Belupo and Lokomotiva kicked off in the first semi-final of the Croatian Cup on Saturday. The match was watched live by the president of the Croatian Football Federation Davor Šuker and the coach of the Croatia national team, Zlatko Dalić.

The Koprivnica club took the lead in the sixth minute of the game, when Goda shook the net with a great long-distance shot under Grbić's crossbar (1:0).

The turnaround was directed by Zagreb in the second half, in the 67th and 79th minute of the game, when Cokaj (1:1) and Tolić (2:1) beat Filipović, with assists by Sammir, who entered the game in the middle of the second half.

Uzuni set the final score of 3:1 for Lokomotiva in injury time. 

In the second match of the Cup semi-final on Sunday, Rijeka and Osijek met in Rujevica.

Less than half an hour before the end of the game, Osijek led with 0:2 with goals by Bočkaj (16th, 48th minutes), but Rijeka managed to achieve a turnaround after playing a man up in the second half and with the help of referee Pajač. Murić (66th), Čolak (73rd, penalty ) and Yateke (86th) were the goalscorers for Rijeka.

Rijeka will thus play in the Cup final for the seventh time. So far, it has lifted the winning trophy five times (2005, 2006, 2014, 2017, 2019). Its rival in the final, which will be played on August 1 in Šibenik, will be Lokomotiva. It will be Lokomotiva's second appearance in the final, after they lost to Hajduk in 2013.

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

Wednesday, 20 May 2020

350 Players and Staff in Croatian First League Test Negative for COVID-19

May 20, 2020 - The results of genetic testing for the SARS-CoV-2 virus in a sample of 350 players and members of the professional staff of Croatian First League clubs ruled out the existence of COVID-19 in the tested population.

HNS reports that the second phase of testing continues this week, which includes serology tests in addition to RT-qPCR molecular tests to determine the presence of specific IgA and IgG antibodies. The presence of igG antibodies is important because it confirms that the person has overcome the disease.

In his efforts to prevent the spread of Covid-19, the president of the Health Commission of the Croatian Football Association, Dr. Dragan Primorac and co-workers developed a comprehensive model that includes, among other things, the application of specific tests to determine the existence of genetic material of SARS-CoV-2 virus, using molecular tests RT-qPCR. Specifically, this analysis proves the presence of viral (N, E, RdRP) genes of the SARS-CoV-2 virus. Determining the presence of viral genetic material is done from a sample of nasopharyngeal swabs (part of the pharynx behind the nasal cavity) since the nasopharynx is one of the places the virus is concentrated after entering the human body. In this model, genetic testing is done at intervals of five days, in order to avoid obtaining false-negative results. Namely, the so-called latency period (the period from contact with the virus to the production of new virus particles) lasts approximately five days.

The project, which is already known in the world today as the "Croatian model", and which was published in the prestigious Journal of Global Health, was strongly supported by Fifa and Uefa. The Teaching Institute for Public Health “dr. Andrija Štampar", Special Hospital Sv. Katarina, International Society for Applied Biological Sciences (ISABS) and Genos Laboratory. Logistical support for the project is also provided by the "HNS Commission for the Covid-19 Pandemic", which includes members of the HNS Health Commission and scientists from the Clinic for Infectious Diseases "Dr. Fran Mihaljević”, Teaching Institute for Public Health "Dr. Andrija Štampar" and the Croatian Institute of Public Health.

The Croatian Football Federation especially emphasizes the great cooperation with clubs, players and members of the professional staff who acted extremely responsibly during the implementation of this project. Also, the Croatian Football Federation continues to implement all measures prescribed by the National Civil Protection Headquarters of the Republic of Croatia.

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

Monday, 18 May 2020

Capak Talks Return of Croatian First League, Testing Players, and Club Consequences

May 18, 2020 - The director of the Croatian Institute of Public Health (HZJZ) and a member of the National Civil Protection Headquarters Krunoslav Capak was a guest on Croatian football television where he commented and explained the epidemiological conditions for the return of football and the Croatian First League.

T.portal reports that the football season in Croatia continues on Saturday, May 30, when Lokomotiva and Slaven Belupo meet in the semifinals of the Croatian Cup. On May 31, Osijek and Rijeka meet in the other semifinal match.

The Hrvatski Telekom Croatian First League resumes on June 6, and Krunoslav Capak, the head of the Croatian Institute of Public Health (HZJZ) and a member of the National Civil Protection Headquarters, commented on what we can expect for Croatian Football Television.

"We let the training begin, and if the situation is as it is now, then competitions can start. We will agree with everyone. A PCR test is valid for up to two days, after which a person can become contagious, so we do not like excessive use of tests. One test costs a thousand and a half kuna and the benefits and costs need to be weighed. If someone can afford it, that's fine, but by keeping the measures and without testing, a high level of safety can be achieved," Capak explained some of the epidemiological measures that Croatian first division players have to implement if they want to play at all.

The problem arises if just one player is infected with the coronavirus. What will happen in that case?

"If one of the players is positive, everyone who has been in contact with him in the last 48 hours must be in self-isolation," Capak says clearly and continues:

"The alternative is additional testing, but the test is valid for 24, at most 28 hours, so you would have to test constantly until 14 days. They and their family will have to isolate themselves at home. At the same time, it probably means the end of the competition for that club,"  revealed Capak.

Reading between the lines, if this worst-case scenario happens, the regularity of the entire competition comes into question, so it is almost certain that the most radical measures would be taken, and that is the termination of the Croatian First League competition.

A few days ago, the coach of Varaždin, Samir Toplak, wondered how it is possible that there can be as many as 200 people in churches, and spectators are not allowed in the stands. Football is still played outdoors, and there is more than enough space in the stands for those who would be encouraged to come. Social distance in the stands should not be a problem.

But according to Capak, these two types of gatherings are incomparable. True, the head of the HZZJ left the possibility that perhaps by further easing the measures in the near future, spectators - in limited numbers - could go to the stands of football stadiums.

"Mass is a static event where there is no contact except at communion for which there are precise epidemiological measures. Churches are both tall and airy buildings, and there is more interaction in cinemas and theaters, as well as at matches. There are epidemiological measures that could be prescribed to spectators in the stands, but it is still high risk. We are going in stages, although everyone would like everything right away," concluded Krunoslav Capak.

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

Wednesday, 6 May 2020

HNS Confirms: Croatian Football Returns on May 30

May 6, 2020 - The Executive Board of the Croatian Football Federation (HNS) has decided that the football season will continue on May 30,  after it was interrupted in March because of COVID-19.

HNS announced on its website that following yesterday's meeting with the Secretary of the Central State Office for Sport, Tomislav Družak, with representatives of the Croatian Institute of Public Health, dates were proposed for concessions in the sports sector. Thus, the relaxed measures concerning the training processes are in place for the next two weeks, while the competitions will resume at the end of May and the beginning of June.

In accordance with the epidemiological situation in the country, the final approval for resuming the competition on the recommendation of the HZJZ will be given by the National Civil Protection Headquarters.

Expecting the proposed dates to be confirmed by the Civil Protection Headquarters, the HNS Executive Board reversed its decision of April 7, 2020, and decided that the football season would continue on May 30 and 31 with the Croatian Cup semi-finals, and on June 6, with the continuation of the Croatian Telecom First League. All matches would be played without the presence of spectators.

The Croatian Cup final, according to the previous plan, would be played on August 1. 

The Second HNL and Third HNL and other minor leagues will not resume the 2019/20 season, as well as competitions in all younger age categories.

The Executive Board will subsequently make decisions on the eventual continuation of competitions in 1st HNLŽ and 1st HMNL, as well as other necessary decisions regarding all competitions under the jurisdiction of HNS, and will notify clubs and the public promptly.

In addition, according to the recommendations of the Croatian Employment Service, HNS will issue binding instructions for clubs ahead of the competition, in order to maximize the health of players and all football players.

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

Thursday, 16 April 2020

Nenad Bjelica No Longer Coach of Dinamo Zagreb

April 16, 2020 - Nenad Bjelica is no longer the coach of Dinamo Zagreb! reports that negotiations at Maksimir lasted for more than three hours on Thursday, after which Dinamo officially announced that Nenad Bjelica was no longer the coach of the Croatian champion.

"GNK Dinamo and Nenad Bjelica have agreed to terminate their business cooperation. The club thanks Nenad Bjelica for his cooperation so far and the results he has achieved as the coach for Dinamo."

No details of the painful breakup are known so far. It should be reminded that by the end of the contract, Dinamo should have paid Bjelica just over two million euro.

Nenad Bjelica arrived at Maksimir this morning after 9 am to discuss terminating his contract. Dinamo had already written off the coach who brought the club the biggest success in Europe in the last 50 years as he did not agree to a reduced salary.

"The breakup was mutual, we didn't even get to fight," Bjelica told reporters.

What caught everyone's eye on Thursday is that Bjelica got out of a car with Split license plates. Namely, he arrived for negotiations with Split lawyer Tomislav Kasal. Kasal is a lawyer representing the Football Union Association and Hajduk and is a member of FIFA's Disputes Commission. He also represents a few Dinamo players.

The club was allegedly surprised that Bjelica arrived with a lawyer for his first interview at the club after the outbreak of the conflict. According to information from close sources, Bjelica did not forget about the dismissed members of his coaching staff who were not entitled to compensation and wanted to settle them in this breakup.

The new coach will be the current expert at the helm of the young squad, Igor Jovicic, which the club should soon confirm. So far, he is the only candidate for Bjelica's successor.

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

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