Tuesday, 14 March 2023

Croatia Fails to Qualify for Water Polo World Cup Final Tournament in Los Angeles

March 14, 2023 - After winning the 2022 European Championship in Split last September, Croatia did not advance to the Water Polo World Cup final tournament in California at the end of June. 

The Croatia men's water polo players will not go to California in June for the World Cup final tournament. In the match that decided the second trip to the Super Final, Hungary beat Croatia 13:10 and thus secured their trip to Los Angeles. Italy and the USA also qualified from Croatia's group. 

Croatia was not good from the beginning. Hungary led throughout the game, from 0:2 to 1:5 at the beginning of the second quarter. It didn't help that the Hungarian left winger Gergo Zalanki had a perfect evening, scoring 7 goals from 9 attempts. He went on to win the "Player of the Match" award.

There were other aggravating circumstances, like the early dismissal of Kharkov due to three personal fouls. This significantly weakened Croatia. 

Nevertheless, Croatia did not give up in front of a sold-out Zagreb crowd, even when Hungary took a 10:6 lead a minute before the end of the third quarter. Moreover, with four consecutive goals (Lazić, Burić, Vrlić, and Bašić) Croatia equalized at 10:10, exactly 3 minutes and 17 seconds before the end.

However, Hungary reached 12:10 in one minute through Vigvari and Zalanki, and the last goal for the final 13:10 was scored by Manhercz just 21 seconds before the end, on an empty net. That was no longer so important because goalkeeper Popadić, who replaced Bijač in the last quarter, logically went on the attack.

"We lost the match because we opened it badly. Especially in the attack. We conceded only three goals from the first 10 extra man plays. We were throwing blocks, unprepared, limp. We didn't go in as hard as I expected and what I was looking for. Then, during the whole match, we spent a lot of time. What I have to congratulate the guys on is the character they showed. They expressed their desire, equalized, and then in the end we obviously can't move forward. We were confused offensively, and Zalanki, who only arrive on Sunday, killed us. He obviously benefited from the rest," said coach Ivica Tucak. 

"We didn't even start the game well, and we were already losing 5:1. Again, we showed character, and got back to 10:10, but then... A little deconcentration or fatigue because we spent a lot of effort to equalize, which then cost us by conceding a goal or two too easily," added Marko Žuvela. 

Source: HVS

To follow the latest sports news in Croatia, follow TCN's dedicated page.

Friday, 26 August 2022

Stage Set for 35th LEN European Water Polo Championships in Split!

August 26, 2022 - The 35th LEN European Water Polo Championships will be held in Split at the Spaladium Arena from August 27 to September 10, 2022. 

Head of the organizers, Renato Zivkovic, said at the opening press conference on Friday morning that since Split had earned the right to host the event in 2018, they had to overcome the impacts of the pandemic and now the ongoing war – but with the support of the Government, the city and their partners, they were able to deliver everything they had planned.

“Despite all these difficulties, we remained calm and solved the problems in the best possible way over the last six months, though this was very demanding. But now what matters is that we have 28 teams here, 92 matches to play in 15 days – two pools were constructed, the arena is decorated, and
everything is ready for the great show. I hope that everyone will enjoy the next two weeks.”

“I’ve been here for many events, handball championships, concerts, but for me, the Arena looks the most beautiful now, and it would be nice if the pool could stay forever,” said Milos Mracevic, speaking on behalf of LEN as Bureau Member and water polo liaison.

“We can’t wait for the start of the competition and pass the floor to the main stars of the event. On behalf of LEN President Antonio Silva and First
Vice-President Josip Varvodic, we are all grateful to the Croatian Water Polo Federation for what they have done in the last year and the enormous efforts they’ve put in to have a successful event in Split. I’m sure that in the end, everyone will leave with the most positive impressions.”

LEN Operational Manager Marco Birri highlighted that 34 broadcasters would have live coverage of the championships, and LEN also offers a free live stream of each game with on-site commentary.

“On our new platform, which is available through our website, we’ll feature even more content, while you may relive each and every goal scored in Split by visiting our livescoring site, where the goal clips will be featured almost immediately as the game progresses.”

The championships begin with the first two rounds of the women’s tournament on Saturday and Sunday, while the men’s tournament starts on Monday.

Ivica Tucak, coach of the Croatia men’s team, spoke at the press conference as well: 

“We had the privilege to play a practice game with Serbia in this beautiful venue – congratulations to Renato and the entire organizing team who worked on this wonderful project. I’m sure we’ll have a fantastic championship here in Split. As for the team, everybody will give his absolute top to represent the country in the best possible way. We have ambitions, but we have a completely new team compared to Tokyo. Going through all the changes and forming a new team is never easy, and we also had to deal with injuries and sickness, so we’ll miss a couple of players. Still, we proved our strength at the World Championships and the warm-up tournaments, we have a lot to offer, and we have the same goal as always – that is, reaching the semis and playing in the medal round. It’s difficult to predict anything, but we are ready to play in this beautiful city, in front of our fans, show our best and go as far as we can.”

To follow the latest sports news in Croatia, follow TCN's dedicated page.

Tuesday, 14 June 2022

Coach Ivica Tucak Selects Croatia Team for 2022 World Water Polo Championships

June 14, 2022 - At Monday's press conference in Pula, Ivica Tucak determined 13 players who will represent Croatia at the 2022 World Water Polo Championships in Hungary in one week. 

Recall, the Croatia water polo team began its cycle of preparations in Pula before they leave for the World Championships in Hungary from June 18 to July 3. Croatia will play its first game on June 21.

"I made the final decision after much deliberation. Ever since Podgorica and the qualifications for the World League a month ago, I opted for a team like this, a team that is a bit faster, a bit younger, and hopefully more aggressive. We have players who can play both on the right and in the back, those who will, so to speak, "fill" the quota of personal mistakes. I think this team also looked decent in the game in Trieste last Friday against Italy. This is simply the most ideal thing we have," said coach Tucak. 

Croatia and Italy will meet again in a friendly match on June 14 at the Pula City Pool. 

Croatia will start the 2022 World Water Polo Championships in Group B and will play the following schedule: 

June 21: Greece - Croatia (19:30)

June 23: Croatia - Germany (18:00)

June 25: Japan - Croatia (18:00)

Croatia player list for 2022 World Water Polo Championships



Marko Bijač

Toni Popadić


Ivan Krapić (kapetan momčadi)

Josip Vrlić


Marko Žuvela

Rino Burić


Luka Bukić

Loren Fatović

Ante Vukičević

Konstantin Harkov

Jerko Marinić Kragić

Franko Lazić

Andrija Bašić


Lovro Paparić – center

Ivan Domagoj Zović – attackers

Coaching staff

Ivica Tucak – coach

Zoran Bajić – assistant coach

Jure Marelja – assistant coach

Pero Kuterovac – conditioning coach

Renco Posinković – goalkeeper coach

Igor Pezelj – video analysis

Damir Luketić – physiotherapist

Petar Kopanja – physiotherapist

Dr. Ivan Čurlin – doctor

Recall, defender Hrvoje Benić and goalkeeper Ivan Marcelić were injured already before the preparations, so coach Tucak knew he would travel to the World Championships without these two.

Source: HVS

For more, make sure to check out our dedicated sports section

Wednesday, 8 June 2022

Croatia Water Polo World Championship Prep Begins in Pula

June 8, 2022 - The Croatia Water Polo World Championship prep has begun in Pula. Croatia plays their first match in the tournament on June 21 against Greece. 

The Croatia water polo team is in Pula, beginning its cycle of preparations before leaving for the World Championships in Hungary from June 18 to July 3. Croatia will play its first game on June 21.

"We gathered on Sunday night, after the Champions League. We don't have much time; our goal is to rest the players and psychologically prepare them for the first big competition this summer. The team is new, with a lot of work to do and little time, but I believe the real test will be the matches against the Italian national team, with which we will play two official matches, the first in Trieste and the second on June 14 in Pula.

We will end this cycle of preparations, give the boys two days off, and gather again on June 17. Then the selected thirteen players will be revealed, who will start in Budapest on June 18 for another match, this time against the national team of Hungary, after which I believe we will be ready to welcome the start of the World Championships," announced coach Ivica Tucak.

After bad news about the injuries of defender Hrvoje Benić and goalkeeper Ivan Marcelić, Tucak is traveling to the World Championships without these two players.

The Croatia national team currently includes:

Toni Popadić (Jug Adriatic osiguranje), Jerko Jurlin (Mladost), Josip Vrlić (Radnički), Ivan Krapić (Noisy-le-Sec), Lovro Paparić (Vouliagmeni), defenders Marko Žuvela (Jug Adriatic osiguranje), Matias Biljak (Mladost), Rino Burić (Jadran), forwards Konstantin Kharkov (Jadran), Ivan Domagoj Zović (Szolnok), Jerko Marinić Kragić (Jadran), Loren Fatović (Jug Adriatic osiguranje), Franko Lazić (Mladost), Ante Vukičević (Marseille), Luka Bukić (Jadran), Andrija Bašić (Palermo), Dario Rakovec (Mladost) and Kristijan Milaković (Szolnok).

Tickets for the Croatia - Italy friendly match in Pula on June 14 are already on sale at the Pula City Pool.


For more, make sure to check out our dedicated sports section

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.

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

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 Gol.hr.

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 Gol.hr.

To follow the latest sports news in Croatia, follow TCN's dedicated page.

To learn more about sport in Croatia, CLICK HERE

Tuesday, 19 October 2021

Captain Andro Bušlje, Maro Joković, Luka Lončar Retire from Croatia Water Polo

October 19, 2021 - The Croatia water polo team will look slightly different moving forward, as captain Andro Bušlje, co-captain Maro Joković, and center Luka Lončar retire from the national team. 

In the last two national water polo competitions, Croatia had one of the oldest national teams. At the European Championships in Budapest in January 2020, the Barracudas were the second most senior national team with an average of 29.4 years (behind Serbia, 30.7 years). At the Olympic Games in Tokyo in August this year, Croatia reached the top with an average of 31 years and 77 days or slightly ahead of Serbia with 30 years and 325 days, reported HVS.

It was thus clear that the team would need to be rejuvenated; it was inevitable that some players would retire. 

The oldest Croatia player, Xavi Garcia (38), announced he would end his playing career at the Olympic Games. During the tournament in Japan, national team captain Andro Bušlje told reporters that he was probably saying goodbye to the national team. After returning from Tokyo, it was agreed in principle that after a short time, the coach would talk to the players, especially the seniors, and discuss how the team would look entering a new Olympic cycle. Now, two and a half months after Tokyo, it has all become clear. 

"Along with Xavi Garcia, who finished playing water polo, and Paulo Obradović, who also finished his Croatia career after Tokyo, captain Andro Bušlje, co-captain Maro Joković, and center Luka Lončar said goodbye to the national team. I still left a slightly open option with Joković and Lončar to make them available in some situations if required, but in principle, it is their decision. I still have to go to Belgrade in the next few days and talk to Josip Vrlić," said coach Ivica Tucak in an interview with Sportske Novosti. 

“These are simply players who have given everything as far as the national team is concerned, which at certain years are tired, saturated and we have to look to the future. We need to move in a new direction. I have always said that the national team's doors will be forever open for some possible corrections if we see that we are thin in some positions or do not have appropriate solutions. However, we need to turn things around. We can no longer go further with people who are 35-38 years old. It doesn't work anymore. Not that we can't, but they can't either. That is inevitable in every sport, but I am not pessimistic. It will take a clear bit of time and patience to sort this out. We already have some players from before, we are counting on them, and now we are going to join new ones," adds Tucak. 

The Croatia coach also indicated some players who are returning to the team. 

“What is certain is that Ivan Krapić is returning to the national team. I had a conversation with him. With his energy, work, and professional qualities, he can offer a lot, give to this national team," says Tucak about the center that formed a tandem with Luka Lončar at the World Championships in Budapest in 2017, when Croatia won the world title for the second time.

“Rino Burić, Marko Žuvela, Franko Lazić. These guys have to get a chance and deserve it with their games in their clubs. With those who will remain like Fatović, Bukić, Vukičević, Bijač, Marcelić, Macan, Benić… and then Kharkov. These are all players who play significant roles in their clubs; they also play in the Champions League. We are also following the young center Lovro Paparić, the slightly older Luka Lozina, both of whom play in Greece, and then Antonio Dužević at Jadran. I am also counting on Jerko Marinić Kragić. He is 30 years old, but he is a player I have been following since 2008, from the junior national team. He is one of the leading players for Jadran today. He deserves to be in the national team, and if he wins a spot, it will be seen through the preparations," said Tucak.

In addition, the national team staff also changed. Tucak's assistants are no longer Mile Smodlaka and Sandro Sukno, who lead big clubs Jadran and Pro Recco. Especially in this challenging and long 2021/22 season, in which clubs will be forced to suspend national and European club competitions in the spring of 2022 due to national team preparations and appearances at the World Cup in Fukuoka, and then immediately resume matches, so that the summer is used to prepare for the European Championship in Split.

“My first assistant will be Zoran Bajić, the coach of Mladost because he will have slightly fewer obligations with his club than the duo so far. Furthermore, I want to include Fran Vićan and Renc Posinković in my work with goalkeepers. This will be a novelty because not only will they be goalkeeping coaches, but they will also sit with me on the bench during matches, and they will communicate with the goalkeepers; they will be in charge of changing the goalkeepers and the like. Whether the goalkeeper's coach will be Vićan or Posinković, we will see from their obligations. I will certainly include Jura Marelja, the coach of Solaris, in the work of the national team, for one part of the preparations," said Tucak. 

In early November, coach Tucak should soon announce the list of national team players for the first, short-term preparations (2-3 days). In the middle of next month, the European club champion Pro Recco will arrive in Zagreb for 4-5 days to train with the Croatia national team. Finally, towards the end of this calendar year, Italy should arrive in Zagreb before Croatia travels to Belgrade for preparations with Serbia in the first days of January 2022. 

To follow the latest sports news in Croatia, follow TCN's dedicated page.

To learn more about sport in Croatia, CLICK HERE.

Friday, 9 July 2021

Croatia Water Polo Team for Tokyo Announced

July 9, 2021- The Croatia water polo team for Tokyo has been announced by coach Ivica Tucak, two days earlier than originally announced. A look at the final team that will represent Croatia at the upcoming Olympic Games in Tokyo.

The Croatia water polo team coach, Ivica Tucak, has announced a list of 13 players he is counting on at the Olympic Games in Tokyo (July 23 - August 8). Croatia will open its Olympic appearance in Group B on July 25 against Kazakhstan, followed by Serbia, Spain, Australia, and Montenegro.

In relation to the 19 players that the coach has had so far in the preparations, goalkeeper Toni Popadić, center Luka Lozina, defenders Hrvoje Benić, Andrija Bašić, and Rino Burić, and forward Franko Lazić have dropped out.

"The decision fell on a slightly faster team. My vision is that with a player more in the outside line, we gain speed, and we will compensate the position of a defender with some players, if necessary with the center because we now have Obradović who can play at 2 meters. So, we have somewhat wider possibilities," said coach Tucak after the announcement.

"The decision is not easy, these are never simple. I thanked all the players because they all gave their maximum in these preparations. I especially thanked Burić and Popadić who were at the Olympic qualifiers in Rotterdam. Especially Popadić because if it weren't for his defense against Russia on penalties, we wouldn't be on our way to Tokyo today. This is what is safe for me, even after consultation with associates, the best that Croatia can offer in Tokyo," concluded coach Tucak.

Before Tokyo, the national team will still play in the tournament in Cagliari - Sardinia Cup. Croatia will play its first game on Friday at 20:30 against Russia, while on Saturday at 19:00, they will play against the hosts Italy.

After the end of the tournament, on Sunday, the national team members will go home and gather again in Zagreb on July 15, when they will continue their preparations until they leave for Tokyo.


1. Marko Bijač (Olympiacos)

2. Ivan Marcelić (Mladost) 


3. Luka Lončar (Pro Recco)

4. Josip Vrlić (without a club)


5. Andro Bušlje, kapetan (Olympiacos)

6. Marko Macan (Waspo 98 Hannover)

7. Paulo Obradović (Jug Adriatic osiguranje)


8. Lovre Miloš (without a club)

9. Maro Joković, zamjenik kapetana (without a club)

10. Xavi Garcia (Jug Adriatic osiguranja)

11. Ante Vukičević (Marseille)

12. Luka Bukić (Jadran Split)

13. Loren Fatović (Jug Adriatic osiguranje)

Source: HVS

To follow the latest sports news in Croatia, follow TCN's dedicated page.

To learn more about sport in Croatia, CLICK HERE

Wednesday, 10 February 2021

Olympic Qualifiers: Croatia Water Polo Team Selected for Rotterdam

February 10, 2021 - The Croatia water polo team coach has announced the final list of players with whom he is going to the Olympic qualifying tournament in Rotterdam.

The Olympic qualifiers will be held in Rotterdam from February 14 to 21, and coach Ivica Tucak has decided on 14 players for their trip to the Netherlands.

"This is the most difficult decision for every coach, including me, considering that all the guys from the initial 22 who were invited to the preparations gave their best. Eighteen of them were invited to Zagreb, four of which had to drop out. They are goalkeeper Marcelić, center Dobud, and outside players Benić and Žuvela. I want to sincerely thank all four of them for the maximum effort they put in, their desire and will. With their presence at every training session and match, they made our preparations even better, and I thank them for that. As a coach, this is a tough decision, but it was made based on the players' current state. This does not mean that the same 14 players will travel to Tokyo if we qualify, but I think that these 14 are the best that Croatian water polo has at the moment," said coach Tucak.

The player list includes Marko Bijač, Marko Macan, Loren Fatović, Luka Lončar, Maro Joković, Luka Bukić, Ante Vukičević, Andro Bušlje, Lovre Miloš, Josip Vrlić, Rino Burić, Javier Garcia Gadea, Toni Popadić and reserve Franko Lazić.

The International Federation of Water Sports (FINA) has decided that each team can travel to the tournament with a maximum of 22 people.

"Considering the rhythm that awaits us there, eight games in eight days, extreme effort in physical and psychological terms, I decided to take two physiotherapists and doctors to the tournament. This medical care, along with Professor Kuterovac, who will help regeneration and rest, is critical. For that reason, we leave with 14, not 15 players. Franko Lazić is traveling as a reserve player, who can only join the team if one of the players confirms himself as COVID-positive," Tucak explained.

In Rotterdam, 12 national teams will be divided into two groups. Croatia is in Group B with Germany, Russia, Romania, the Netherlands, and France, and Group A consists of Greece, Montenegro, Brazil, Canada, Georgia, and Turkey. After five games in the group, the four best teams from each group will play in the quarterfinals.

"Every game is difficult, every game brings its own challenge, and every next one is even harder and even more important than the previous one. What we need to focus on is our performance. I think we have quality, and we are better than any national team in the group, but we have to show that in the pool," concluded Tucak.

"The quarterfinal match will be difficult in the psychological sense, and then the semifinals. We have no right to make a mistake. We are opening the tournament with Romania, we know their best player Cosmin Radu well, he is mine and Bušlje's club teammate. I think he will take care of them and will certainly cover them well. We will try to tire him out as much as possible and, of course, hope to win. We expect to qualify for the Olympics. I think that we are the best team and that we will succeed," said Croatia national team player Luka Bukić.

His teammate Andro Bušlje sees the greatest strength of Croatia in the team.

"We believe in each other and encourage each other when we are doing well, as well as in those difficult times when we are not doing well. We did a lot of physical preparation because an extremely demanding tournament awaits us. As the tournament progresses, we will be more and more tired, but I don't think there will be any problems, and we will show ourselves in the best light in Rotterdam. We are doing all this and preparing to get that long-desired visa for Tokyo," said Bušlje.

Croatia travels to Rotterdam on Friday, February 12, and the first match of the tournament will be played on Sunday, February 14 at 7 pm against Romania.

Source: HVS

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

Tuesday, 7 January 2020

Croatia Men's and Women's Water Polo Teams Complete Ahead of Euros

January 7, 2020 - The Croatia men's and women’s water polo coaches have released the final lists of players for the upcoming European Championship.

Croatia's men's and women's water polo teams will participate in the European Championship in Budapest from January 12 to 26, 2020. Men’s coach Ivica Tucak and women’s coach Marijo Caleta announced the final list of players for this competition on Tuesday.

Ivica Tucak has selected the following players for the 34th LEN European Water Polo Championship: Marko Bijac, Ivan Marcelic, Andro Buslje, Marko Macan, Hrvoje Benic, Maro Jokovic, Javier Garcia, Lovre Milos, Ante Vukicevic, Loren Fatovic, Luka Bukic, Luka Loncar and Josip Vrlic.

Compared to last year's World Cup in South Korea, where Croatia won the bronze, only Luka Bukic is a new face in the national team, while there is no Andelo Setka.

In addition to the coach, Mile Smodlaka (assistant), Sandro Sukno (assistant), Pero Kuterovac (fitness coach), Igor Pezelj (goalkeeping coach) and Damir Luketic (physical therapist) are also part the staff.

Women’s coach Marijo Caleta selected the following national team players for the European Championship: Dina Lordan, Petra Bukic, Emmi Miljkovic, Matea Skelin, Domina Butic, Ivana Butic, Ema Carevic, Ana Miroslavic, Mia Topic, Julija Bozan, Bruna Barisic, Alexandra Ratkovic and Natasha Trojan.

Along with Caleta, the staff also includes Alen Brakus, Mia Simunic, Kristjan Hrbic, Dunja Bracun and Kristina Delas.

The Croatia men’s team will play in Group A with Montenegro, Germany and Slovakia, and the tournament will open on January 14 (2:30 pm) against Germany. The top team in each group will go directly to the quarterfinals, and the second and third teams will make it to the round of 16.

This European Championship carries even more weight, as only the winning team will qualify for the Tokyo Olympics. The European teams that have already qualified to compete in Tokyo are Serbia, Italy and Spain, so advancing to the semifinals may be enough to qualify for the 2020 Olympics in the end. 

The Croatia women’s team is also in Group A with Greece, Hungary, Russia, Serbia and Slovakia. Coach Marijo Caleta will lead the team through their first game on January 12 (7:30 pm) against Hungary. The four best teams from the group will win a place in the quarterfinals.

Two years ago, Croatia finished 11th among the 12 national teams at the Euros in Barcelona. The best national team from this Championship will qualify for the Tokyo Olympics, apart from Spain, as they have already qualified. 

Source: HVS

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