Tuesday, 16 March 2021

Croatian Cup Quarterfinals: Istra 1961 and Gorica Advance to Semis

March 16, 2021 - After the Croatian Cup quarterfinals on Tuesday, Istra 1961 and Gorica advance to the semifinals against Rijeka and Dinamo. 

Istra 1961 advanced to the Croatian Cup semifinals after defeating the third division Oriolik from Oriovac 3-0 (0-0). Two goals were scored by Japanese player Taichi Hara (61, 86), while Mario Živatović scored an own goal in the 89th minute.

In the small town of Oriovac, halfway between Gradiška and Slavonski Brod, Istra reached the semifinals of the Cup in tough playing conditions - rain, wind, and a sloppy pitch. 

Third division club Oriolik, for whom this is the greatest success in its 98 years, dominated in the first half. In the first nine minutes, Batalo and Marušić missed nearly guaranteed chances to score.

A penalty came in the 61st minute when Hara escaped from offside and scored for the Istra lead. Hara scored again in the 86th minute, and the final 3-0 was the work of Oriolik's Živatović, who scored an own goal in the 89th minute.

In the second quarterfinal on Tuesday, Gorica topped Hajduk 3-0 in Velika Gorica. Gorica and Hajduk also played just three days ago in the HNL, which ended 1:1

Kristijan Lovrić was Gorica's hero, scoring an early goal in the 9th minute for 1-0 at the half. Lovrić scored his second goal of the match for 2-0 in the 83rd minute, while Nimely made it 3-0 in the final minute of regulation time. Ivan Dolček scored for Hajduk in the 60th minute but it was called offside. 

Advancing to the Cup semis is Gorica's greatest achievement in club history.

In the other quarterfinal matches played at the beginning of the month, Rijeka celebrated at Osijek (2-1) and Dinamo at home against Slaven Belupo (2-0). 

In the semifinals, Gorica will play against Dinamo at Maksimirr, and Istra 1961 will host Rijeka in Pula.

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

Sunday, 10 January 2021

Teenage Football Star Rocco Zikovic Joins RB Salzburg For Record €2 Million

January 10, 2021 – Still only 15-years-old, Pula's Rocco Zikovic is following in the footsteps of football megastars Sadio Mané and Erling Haaland with his record teenage transfer to Red Bull Salzburg

Although inside the country Croatians enjoy a wide variety of sports, to outsiders there is only one sport for which Croatia has become known around the world. Football.

The glittering international careers of Luka Modrić, Ivan Rakitić, Ivan Perišić, Mario Mandžukić and others have in recent years advertised Croatia as a factory of top-flight footballing talent. Their combined efforts in reaching the final of the most recent World Cup sent that reputation into the stratosphere.

Croatian footballing talent has become so well known that the scouting of Croatia's young players is beginning earlier and earlier. However, Austrian side Red Bull Salzburg's recent purchase of promising Pula talent Rocco Zikovic breaks several records. The transfer fee - rumoured to be in the region of an initial €2 million – is the highest ever made to Zikovic's former team, Istra 1961. It is also the highest ever paid for a Croatian player of Rocco Zikovic's age; he is still only 15-years-old.

Rocco Zikovic © NK Istra 1961

But, by all accounts, Red Bull Salzburg have here done a particularly shrewd piece of business in their acquisition of the player. Rocco Zikovic captained Istra 1961 cadets to the top of the national league last year. He has also played for the Croatian National Football Team in the U-15, U-16 and U-17 age categories. Playing in midfield, he was the captain of the Croatian National youth team that recently won the international Vlatko Marković tournament in Osijek, where Rocco Zikovic was judged player of the tournament. It is during his performances there that Red Bull Salzburg are rumoured to have finally decided on making their move.

Rocco Zikovic is following a long line of youth talent to have been picked up by Red Bull Salzburg

Red Bull Salzburg have a strong reputation for scouting international youth talent and picking them up at the right time. They bought Senegalese player Sadio Mané for €4 million while he was only a teenager before selling him on into the UK Premier League for €13.5 million after just two years. Red Bull Salzburg bought Norwegian international Erling Haaland, one of Europe's most exciting young players, before selling him to Borussia Dortmund in 2019 for a fee reported to be in the region of €20 million. Haaland completed the move having become the first teenager ever to score in five consecutive UEFA Champions League matches

FC_RB_Salzburg_versus_Wolfsberger_AC_(10._August_2019)_11.jpgErling Haaland playing for Red Bull Salzburg in 2019. The club sold him to Borussia Dortmund later that year for a fee reported to be in the region of €20 million © Werner100359

Rocco Zikovic's move to Red Bull Salzburg is all but a done deal. He still has to undergo a final medical and wait until 21 January before he can be announced – that's his 16th birthday. Additional fees earned by his former club Istra 1961 could bring their total from the sale to as much as €3.5 million. It may be too early to place too much expectation on the young player's shoulders just yet, but something tells us that we'll be closely watching this young Croatian footballing talent for many more years to come.

For all of the results and news from the key games of Croatian domestic league football, Croatian international players and the Croatian National Football team, be sure to follow our dedicated sports pages here

Thursday, 6 August 2020

Croatian First League Playoffs: Istra 1961 Loss Enough to Keep Spot in Top League

August 6, 2020 - For the third year in a row, Istra 1961 has managed to maintain its first league status through additional qualifications and will continue to play in the company of the best next season.

While Istra celebrated 3-0 in the first match at Kantrida Stadium in Rijeka, they lost the return qualifying match to Orijent 0-1 (0-0). Ilicic scored the only goal in the match in the 49th minute. 

As Istra 1961 convincingly won the first duel, it seemed that the return would be just a formality. However, Orijent played a great game in Pula and only needed to better realize their shots for a big turnaround. Already in the first 15 minutes, the guests created two great opportunities, but their inaccuracy and home team goalkeeper Condric kept the score at 0-0.

At the beginning of the second half, Orijent took the lead, and in the 49th minute, stopper Mulac sent a diagonal ball into the penalty area, where Ilicic reacted brilliantly and beat Condric with a first touch shot.

By the end of the match, Orijent had the initiative and several opportunities, of which Maruzina stood out in the 85th minute when Condric saved his strike with the utmost effort, and Fumic's attempt from the second minute of the referee's added time, which was stopped by the post.

Recall, in the first round match at Kantrida Stadium in Rijeka, the first two Istra goals in the match were scored by Grzan, in the 8th minute from a penalty kick and the 64th minute, while Maganjic secured the final result in the third minute of added time.

Istra 1961 will play against Hajduk in 10 days in the 1st round of the new season, while Orijent will play against Osijek II in the 1st round of the Second HNL.

Source: HRT

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

Monday, 3 August 2020

Croatian First League Playoffs: Istra 1961 Tops Orijent in First Match at Kantrida

August 3, 2020 - In the first match of the playoffs for the Croatian First League, Istra 1961, as a guest at Kantrida stadium, defeated Orijent 3-0 (1-0) and took a big step towards remaining in the company of Croatia's football best.

The first two goals in the match were scored by Grzan, the first in the 8th minute from a penalty kick, the second in the 64th minute, and Maganjic secured the final result in the third minute of the referee's added time.

Istra gained the advantage very early after Smolcic clumsily and unnecessarily knocked down Guzina in the penalty area. Grzan made sure the ball went nowhere but the net for the 1-0 lead.

Already in the 22nd minute, Orijent began losing hope as Ivancevic was sent off with a red card due to a dangerous play. Orijent was forced to play with a man down for the rest of the match.

The second goal of the match was scored by Grzan in the 64th minute, when in the race for a deep ball, Grzan was quicker than the Orijent goalkeeper Berkovic, found his way around him and hit the empty net diagonally.

At the very end of the match, the questionable referee Jovic showed two more red cards. First, after a rough foul, he only showed Istra 1961 player Ivancic a yellow card. After Orijent player Gerc pointed out that it was a red card foul, Jovic first showed Gerc a yellow card for objecting, and as it was his second yellow card, he was excluded from the game. Jovic then consulted VAR, and after watching a recording of Ivancic's offense, he excluded him as well.

At the very end of the match, Maganjic locked in Istra's final and convincing 3-0 lead.

The return match will be played in Pula on Wednesday.

Source: HRT

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

Tuesday, 10 March 2020

Coronavirus in Croatian Football: Rijeka and Istra Without Fans, Lokomotiva Limiting Spectators

March 10, 2020 - A closer look at how the coronavirus outbreak is effecting Croatian football.

Following the announced measures of the Croatian Civil Protection Staff from March 9, the relevant bodies of the Croatian Football Federation (HNS) issued instructions for playing football matches in the following period.

The following instructions have been determined by the leadership of the Croatian Football Federation, headed by President Davor Šuker and Executive Director Marijan Kustić, HNS Executive Board, HNS Medical Commission with President prof. Dr Dragan Primorac, HNS Competition Commission led by President Ante Vučemilović-Šimunović, Commission of Football Referees with President Anto Kulušić, HT First League Competition Commissioner Josip Brezni and HNS Security Commissioner Miroslav Marković:

1. It is obligatory to adhere to all decisions, measures and recommendations which he has prescribed and which will be prescribed by the Civil Protection Staff of the Republic of Croatia or other competent state institutions.

2. Considering the HNS competition calendar, all competitions under the HNS's jurisdiction shall continue with or without spectators.

3. Match organizers are obliged to fully respect and implement the measures of the Civil Protection Staff of the Republic of Croatia.

4. We emphasize the obligation of the organizers to obtain the consent of the County Civil Protection Headquarters and the competent Institute of Public Health regarding the fulfillment of the prescribed conditions for the organization of the match before the matches.

The Croatian Football Federation will continue to closely monitor the situation with the epidemic of the new SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus and will, if necessary, determine new measures and issue new instructions, which will be notified to the football family and the public promptly.

In accordance with the recommendation of the Civil Protection Staff, the opinion of the County Institute of Public Health of Istria County and the decision of the Croatian Football Federation to continue the competition, Istra 1961 announced that its 27th and 28th round HNL games, scheduled on March 14 and 21, will be played without spectators.

On Saturday, March 14, Rijeka will visit Pula to play Istra, while a week later, Hajduk will visit Aldo Drosina Stadium.

"Both games will be played without the presence of spectators and there will be no ticket sales," the first-league team from Pula said.

The Istrian Institute of Public Health on Tuesday issued special recommendations to prevent the coronavirus epidemic, which, among other things, delays all outdoor and indoor gatherings, from children's events and birthdays, to sports, cultural, business and other events.

The Istra decision was only the first since Rijeka and Varazdin later came forward. Both have suspended ticket sales for their next home games.

Varazdin will host Dinamo on Sunday, March 15, and three days later, Rijeka will host Osijek in the Croatian Cup semi-finals. Both Varazdin and Rijeka have stopped selling tickets for those duels.

Lokomotiva will host Osijek at Kranjceviceva stadium on Friday from 6 pm.

'According to the published measures of the Civil Protection Headquarters of the Republic of Croatia, NK Lokomotiva, as the host of the match, will adhere to the maximum extent and implement all instructions, measures and recommendations regarding the organization of the match by the County Civil Protection Headquarters and the Institute of Public Health.

The maximum number of viewers will be 1,000.

NK Lokomotiva will provide checkpoints with disinfectants and urges viewers to refrain from the usual non-verbal communication that involves shaking hands and avoiding closer social contact.'

The club also urges fans with respiratory illness and/or fever (greater than 37.5 C) not to attend the match.

Tickets are purchased exclusively at the stadium ticket office on the day of the match, two hours before the start of the meeting (from 4:00 pm). 

Hajduk will play against Inter Zapresic at Poljud on Sunday at 3 pm as part of the 27th round. It is the first of two championship matches to be played in front of the empty stands because of the penalty that HNK Hajduk received for violations committed during the Hajduk - Dinamo match played on March 4.

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

Tuesday, 9 April 2019

HNL Round 27 & 28 Recap: A Busy Week of Croatian Football

April 9, 2019 - The 27th and 28th rounds of the Croatian First League was held from April 2 to 8, 2019, for one very busy week of Croatian football.

Thursday, 22 February 2018

Sad Truth About Istra 1961: "Glover Will Not Show His Face in Pula Again"

Is there a new owner in sight? Have the players been paid? The Istra 1961 captain speaks. 

Saturday, 6 January 2018

Future of Istra 1961 Still Unknown: No New Owner in Sight, Players Remain Unpaid

The heartbreaking story at Croatian First League football club Istra 1961 continues. 

Sunday, 1 May 2016

Midnight Investments Bring Darkness Over Istrian Football

Yesterday, April 30, 2016, the NK Istra 1961 tied the Croatian first league record in consecutive matches without victory by losing 0:1 to Dinamo Zagreb. Coach Andrej Panadić’s team lined up 20 matches without bringing home three points.

Sunday, 4 October 2015

Hajduk Within Point of Dinamo After Convincing Win, Kalinic Breaks Record

Another convining display from Hajduk against Istra 1961, as goalkeeper Kalinic breaks a record.

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