Wednesday, 18 May 2022

Busy Summer Ahead: Croatia Readies for 2022 Water Polo World Championships and Euros

May 18, 2022 - The 2022 Water Polo World Championships will be held in Hungary from June 18 to July 3, 2022, with Croatia playing the first part of the competition in Debrecen, where Group B will compete. Croatia will play against Greece (June 21), Germany (June 23), and Japan (June 25).

"Over time, according to FINA rules, we will narrow down that list and determine the final 13 players who will travel to the World Champs in Hungary. As we know, we will never have shorter preparations and less time to work with a very young team," said Ivica Tucak, who persists in his intention to create a new, significantly rejuvenated national team.

"Nevertheless, we will continue to be the team with the greatest ambitions. Those preparations before leaving for the World Champs lasting only ten days, as well as the end of the club season in which our players come as exhausted as possible, are not in our favor, but it's the same for us and other national teams," Tucak added. 

"We are gathering a new national team, so I hope that in that extremely short time we will be able to correct the mistakes we noticed at the World League tournament in Podgorica and are ready to welcome the World Champs. However, the main focus of the Croatia water polo team this summer will be the European Championships in Split (August 27 - September 10) and a rather busy schedule awaits us this summer," Tucak said.

Preparations for the World Championships begin on June 14 in Pula with the Croatia - Italy match, followed by a short gathering in Zagreb and a trip to Hungary. European Championship preparations start on July 18 in Kranj and Maribor, followed by the tournament in Cagliari, preparations in Šibenik, and a tournament in Belgrade. Finally, on August 24, Croatia gathers for the European Championships in Split.

1. Marko Bijač (Olympiacos)
2. Ivan Marcelić (Jadran)
3. Toni Popadić (Jug Adriatic osiguranje)
4. Jerko Jurlina (Mladost)
5. Marin Šparada (Solaris)

6. Ivan Krapić (Noisy-le-Sec)
7. Josip Vrlić (Radnički)
8. Lovro Paparić (Vouliagmeni)
9. Antonio Dužević (Jadran)

10. Hrvoje Benić (Jug Adriatic osiguranje)
11. Marko Žuvela (Jug Adriatic osiguranje)
12. Kristijan Milaković (Szolnok)
13. Matias Biljaka (Mladost)

14. Luka Bukić (Jadran)
15. Loren Fatović (Jug Adriatic osiguranje)
16. Ante Vukičević (Marseille)
17. Jerko Marinić Kragić (Jadran)
18. Konstantin Harkov (Jadran)
19. Rino Burić (Jadran)
20. Ivan Domagoj Zović (Szolnok)
21. Franko Lazić (Mladost)
22. Andrija Bašić (Palermo)
23. Jerko Penava (Solaris)
24. Zvonimir Butić (Jadran)
25. Filip Kržić (Jug Adriatic osiguranje)
26. Dario Rakovac (Mladost)

Source: HVS

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

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 

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

Monday, 15 February 2021

Olympic Qualifiers: Croatia Water Polo Defeats the Netherlands (25:8)

February 15, 2021 - In game two of the Olympic Qualifiers in Rotterdam, Croatia water polo defeats the Netherlands (25:8). 

The Croatia water polo team jumped into Rotterdam's Zwemcentrum pool for the second time on Monday, just 24 hours after an impressive performance against Romania to open the competition. Recall, Croatia's 16:6 victory against Romania kicked off a strenuous eight days of water polo in the Netherlands for the Olympic qualifying tournament. The three top teams will secure a spot in Tokyo this summer.

On Monday, Croatia met the Netherlands, a team that surprised the national team of Germany the day before (11:10). 

Croatia kicked off the match with a goal by Josip Vrlic for 1:0 in the first minute, and Maro Jokovic increased Croatia's lead to 2:0 with 5:28 to go. Javier Garcia scored for 3:1, followed by two more goals for Jokovic for 5:1 with a minute to go. Two goals by Luka Bukic in the final minute saw Croatia leading 7:1 into the second quarter. 

Loren Fatovic and Lovre Milos opened the second quarter with goals for 9:1. Andro Buslje scored for 10:2 with 5:45 to go. Bukic and Fatovic scored for 12:3, and Milos scored for 13:4 with two minutes to go. 

Bukic increased Croatia's lead to 16:5 with 6:42 to go in the third quarter, and Vrlic scored for 17:5 one minute later. Milos scored for 18:5 and Bukic for 19:6 to end the third quarter.

Jokovic opened the final quarter with a goal for 20:6. Fatovic made it 21:7 with 4 minutes to go. Rino Buric scored for 22:7 with two minutes left. Luka Loncar scored for 23:8 with a minute and a half to go in the match. Buric scored his second goal of the game for 24:8 with less than a minute left, and Ante Vukicevic scored the final goal of the match for 25:8. 

Croatia will meet France (Tuesday, February 16, at 8:30 pm), Russia (Wednesday, February 17, at 2:30 pm), and Germany (Thursday, February 18, at 8:30 pm) next.

Following the group stage, the quarterfinal stage will commence on Friday, February 19, in which the four best teams from each group will meet.  The pairs will be determined by their positions in the standings (A1 - B4, A2 - B3, A3 - B2, and A4 - B1). 

The four winning teams will play in the semifinals on February 20. The finalists of the qualifying tournament, as well as the national team that wins the match for third place on February 21, will qualify for the Olympic Games in Tokyo, which are scheduled from July 24 to August 8, 2021. 

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

Thursday, 21 May 2020

The Wall Street Journal Calls Ratko Rudic Best Coach in World

May 21, 2020 - One of the world’s most respected and serious media outlets, The Wall Street Journal, featured Croatian water polo coach Ratko Rudic in the article titled “The World's Greatest Coast is Not Who You Think". reports that they then explained who they were referring to: "Ratko Rudic, a man who won four Olympic gold medals with three different national teams and who recently retired."

As he recently said in an interview with Index, Rudic also revealed to WSJ reporters that he is enjoying retirement by painting abstract works inspired by Dali and Pollock while listening to jazz by Mingus and Marsalis because, as he says, it is a "great combination".

Journalists Joshua Robinson and Ben Cohen explained that if most Americans have never heard the name Ratko Rudic, it is only because most Americans do not follow water polo.

To bring readers closer to the hero of the story, the WSJ reporters write that players feared Rudic as they did the ruthless Bill Belichick, the legendary American football coach, but at the same time, adored him as John Woode, the greatest coach of university basketball.

Rudic's impressive achievements are listed: appearances at nine Olympic Games, leading five national teams, winning five coaching and one player medal, of which as many as four are gold. It sounds almost unbelievable that 28 years have passed between his first and last Olympic gold medal. Thus, according to Olympic historian Bill Mallone - Rudić is, therefore, the longest-living athlete.

"After he did all this, led the national teams of Yugoslavia, Italy, the USA, Croatia and Brazil, a pandemic had to happen to drive Rudic into retirement," the text reads.

His former players say Rudic was the most inspiring leader they have ever met.

"He always knew he could get more from players than players can even imagine," said UCLA University water polo coach Adam Wright.

The article also recalled that the US national team, composed of students from the elite Berkeley and Stanford, realized who their coach was on two occasions. The first, after swimming drills went from three to 14 thousand meters, and when during preparations in Italy, where they practiced with the national team there, Rudic went crazy at the chef who gave the hosts vegetables at a joint dinner, and his team none. 

With the slogan "we must suffer", Rudic exposed the Americans to exhausting, painful training for eight hours a day, twice a day for four hours. The players also had to accept Rudic's specialty - underwater wrestling - where the players had to keep each other underwater.

Given the brutal methods, charisma, and success, the authors of the text in the WSJ call Rudic "Michael Jordan with a better mustache".

You can read the full piece on WSJ here.

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

Tuesday, 12 May 2020

Croatian Water Polo Federation Announces Competition Calendar for End of Season

May 12, 2020 - If the epidemiological situation in the country allows it, the first water polo matches in Croatia after the forced break caused by the coronavirus should be played on June 24. The latest news from the Croatian Water Polo Federation. 

Namely, the Croatian Water Polo Federation Board of Directors (HVS) adopted the proposed new competition calendar for the completion of the 2019/20 season. Of course, the chosen terms are also subject to changes due to TV broadcasts in the programs of HTV, Arena Sport, and Planet Sport.

In addition to the playoffs of the Croatian Championship, the Board of Directors has proposed a new date for the finals of the Regional League, which would be played on July 11 and 12, of course, in Dubrovnik. It is also here that changes are possible due to the coincidence with the date of the football match between Dinamo and Hajduk.


Croatian Championship

Quarterfinals, and matches for 9th place: June 24 and 27

Semifinals: July 1, 4 and 6 (played on two victories)

Playoffs from 5th to 8th place:  July 4 and 8

Matches for 5th and 7th place: July 15 and 22

Matches for 3rd place: July 18, 22 and 25

Finals: July 18, 22, 25, 29 and August 1 (finals are played up to three wins, so a maximum of 5 matches is possible)

The quarterfinal pairs of the Croatian Championship, based on the placement in the Regional League are:

Jug AO - Galeb MR

Mladost - POŠK,

Jadran - Primorje EB

Mornar BS - Solaris

REGIONAL LEAGUE - final tournament in Dubrovnik

Semifinals: July 11 (South AO - Jadran Split and Mladost - Jadran HN)

Finals: July 12


Croatian Championship

June 27 - Round 7

July 1 - Round 8

July 4 - Round 9

July 11 - Round 10

The playoffs would follow:

- Semifinals: July 15, 18 and 22

- Finals and matches for third place: July 25, August 1 and 5

Of course, as in all previous cases and every sport, the final confirmation of match dates and the start of the competition will be given by the National Civil Protection Headquarters.

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

Thursday, 16 January 2020

Euro 2020: Croatia Women's Water Polo Team Tops Serbia, One Step Closer to Quarterfinal

January 16, 2020 - In the third round of Group A at the European Championship, the Croatia women's water polo team defeated Serbia 9:8 (2:1, 2:3, 3:3, 2:1) and made a significant step towards reaching the quarterfinal.

Emma Miljkovic and Ivana Butic scored two goals for Croatia, while captain Dina Lordan, Ana Miroslavic, Ema Carevic, Matea Skelin and Domina Butic added one goal each. 

Alexandra Ratkovic was brilliant in goal with seven saves, including defending a crucial 5-meter shot 63 seconds before the end of the game with Croatia leading 9:7.

Croatia started the match better and led by 4:2 with three minutes remaining in the first half. Still, Serbia scored for 5:4 from a three-goal series at the start of the third quarter. The decisive period for Croatia's victory was from the 24th to the 28th minute, when, with three consecutive goals from Marija Caleta, they turned the game from a 6:7 deficit to a 9:7 lead.

Sixty-three seconds before the end, Serbia failed to score from 5-meters when the brilliant Ratkovic defended Jelena Vukovic’s shot. By the end of the match, Serbia managed to make it a one-goal-game but failed to equalize in the last attack.

In the first two rounds of Group A, the Croatian side lost to favorites Hungary and Greece. Serbia also recorded two defeats to Greece and Russia, making this game extremely important in the fight for fourth place, which is the last spot leading to the quarterfinals.

By the end of the competition in Group A, Croatia will play Russia on January 17th and Slovakia on January 19th. A defeat against the extremely strong Russians is to be expected, though our girls have a great chance to win in the last match against Slovakia and thus secure the quarterfinal match. 

After the 3rd round, Croatia is in fourth place with three points. Greece and Hungary lead the Group A rankings with nine points each, followed by Russia with six points each. In fifth is Serbia and in sixth Slovakia without a single point. 

Source: HRT

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Monday, 29 July 2019

Junior World Championship: Croatia Handball Star Ivan Martinović Named MVP

The Under-21 Croatia handball team may have lost in the final of the Junior World Handball Championship, but the young squad brought a historical result to Croatia - the first World Championship medal in this age category.

On Sunday, Croatia lost to France in the final 28:23, though they did boast one victory France could not - the MVP of the competition, announced HVS on July 28, 2019.

Namely, Ivan Martinović was declared the best player of the Junior World Championship in Spain, and Fran Mileta made the tournament’s all-star team!

"Congratulations to France on a deserved victory. They were better. They had some problems in the group stage, but they got better as the tournament went on, as usual. Eventually, they brought in Elohim Prandi, who is the new player for the best team in the world, PSG. It only confirms how much they wanted this gold.

Congratulations to our boys, of course. They were great. There were some tears in the dressing room as they felt they could have done a little better. If it were not for Ivan Martinović, Filip Vistorop or Josip Šarac and the others, we would not have been in the final.

Thank you once again to the whole staff that has worked so intensely for these 40 days to come to this end. This is trainer Dinko Đanković, goalkeeper coach Marko Markiš, who scouted our opponents from Germany and assisted the goalkeepers. And Danijel Brajković, Željko Kercel, and Zdravko Mirilović.

We can be proud because we have the MVP of the World Championship, Ivan Martinović, and right-winger Fran Mileta who made the all-star team of the championship, and he was born in 2000! Our ultimate goal is that from this generation, 5 or 6 of them will play for the A-team.

Ivan Martinović, the tournament’s MVP,  also had a few things to say: 

"I'm so happy with how we played. Many of us were eliminated after the sixth place last year in Slovenia at the Euros. But we knew we were worth it. At every moment, in each game, we gave our best. We used our strengths to their final limits and maybe that even partially decided the final. As for the MVP, I would turn it in for a gold medal without even thinking. In any case, thanks to the teammates who helped me with this feat.”

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

Friday, 19 July 2019

FINA World Championships: Croatia Water Polo Crushes Kazakhstan (21:5)

The Croatia water polo team won first place in Group B at the FINA World Championships in Gwangju, South Korea, with a maximum six points after defeating Kazakhstan 21-5 (6-1, 5-1, 5-1, 5-2).

The Croatia water polo team closed out the group stage of the FINA World Championships in Gwangju, South Korea on Friday against Kazakhstan. Having already secured first place in the group earlier this week, and with certainty that Croatia would easily overcome the Kazakhstan team, the game ended 21:5, reports on July 19, 2019. 

Recall, Croatia managed two convincing wins against Australia (14-4) and the USA (17-7) in the first and second round of games.

Croatia had a 6-0 advantage over Kazakhstan in the first seven minutes - and at the end of the fourth quarter, Croatia was up by 18 (21-3) before Kazakhstan scored two consecutive goals to reduce the defeat in the last moments. 

The most effective for Croatia was Maro Joković and Anđelo Šetka with three goals, while Loren Fatović, Andro Bušlje, Xavi Garcia, Ante Vukičević, Luka Lončar, Josip Vrlić, and Hrvoje Benić scored two, and Lovre Miloš scored one. Five of Kazakhstan's players scored one goal.

Croatia will play in the quarter-final on Tuesday at 8:30 am against the winner of the Germany-South Africa match, which is scheduled for Sunday at 11:30.

Second place in Group B went to the USA, who topped Australia in the 3rd round 12-11.

Croatia, Serbia, Italy, and Hungary are the only teams to directly place in the quarter-final of the tournament.

Only the two national teams that play in the final will qualify for the Olympic Games, and if one of them is Serbia, who have already qualified for the Olympics after winning the World League, then the third-placed team from the tournament in South Korea will travel to Tokyo.

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

Saturday, 29 June 2019

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

Wednesday, 19 June 2019

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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