Tuesday, 15 February 2022

Croatia Water Polo Tops Russia, Secures World League European Final Eight

February 15, 2022 - Croatia has secured its spot in the World League European final eight after topping Russia in Zagreb on Tuesday. 

After Greece, the Croatia water polo team defeated Russia in the second round of the World League Group D. Croatia celebrated in Zagreb on Tuesday 11-9 (1-4, 4-4, 2-1, 4-0) thus securing the World League final European tournament.

However, it wasn't so certain from the start. Russia was ahead 4-0 in the first quarter, and Croatia hit the net for the first time only from their seventh shot! The Barracudas were in disarray until the end of the third quarter. Namely, Russia was up by a considerable 9-5, but fortunately for Croatia, they did not score until the end of the match.

On the other hand, after locking their own goal, Croatian slowly began to gain an advantage. Six and a half minutes before the end of the match, Burić regained hope with a goal for 8-9, while three minutes before the end, Bukić equalized at 9-9.

Burić and Fatović then scored for 11-9 and confirmed Croatia's brilliant turnaround. Loren Fatović was the top scorer with three goals, while Bukić and Burić scored two each, and one each by Vukičević, Žuvela, Benić, and Lazić. Marko Bijač defended brilliantly during the second half and stopped seven of 11 shots from Russia. The Croatia goalkeeper was also named the player of the match.

In the first match in Athens, Croatia defeated Greece 12-11, and with the victory against Russia, secured a place in the final European tournament of the World League, which should be held in Budapest (though this is no longer certain) from April 28 to 30. Croatia will play against the second-placed team from Group C, almost certainly Italy. In the 3rd round next month, Russia and Greece will meet. 

World League, Group D (Round 2):

Croatia - Russia 11-9 (1-4, 4-4, 2-1, 4-0)

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Thursday, 21 October 2021

Jadran Split Secures Champions League Spot with Win against Mladost

October 21, 2021 - The Jadran Split water polo club has managed to qualify for the LEN Champions League this season! 

In the return match of the last round of Champions League qualifications, Jadran Split defeated Zagreb's Mladost (7:3).

Already after the first game in Split and winning 14:7 in the first match, everything was clear for Jadran.

In the return match, Mladost took a 1:0 lead in the fifth minute and did not find their way to the net for the next 25 minutes. During that time, Jadran scored seven goals and took the 7:1 lead. Finally, in the last two minutes, Mladost mitigated the defeat with two goals.

The Zvončac Split club will play in the Champions League Group A, which also includes Novi Belgrade, Olympiacos, Ferencvaros, Barceloneta, Radnički Kragujevac, Dinamo Tbilisi, and Brescia. Novi Belgrade is the host of the final Final Eight tournament and will surely lock the top spot in this group, while the rest of the group will fight for the remaining three places.

In the second group is Dubrovnik's Jug Adriatic Osiguranje, and with them are Pro Recco, Waspo 98 Hannover, Marseille, Spandau 04, Steaua, OSC Budapest and Crvena Zvezda.

Against Zagreb on Wednesday, Jadran rested captains Anđelo Šetka and Nikša Dobud. The two routines didn't have to go to Zagreb at all, and they rested for new challenges, which will certainly progress in the season. Jadran, led by coach Mile Smodlaka, achieved the set plan as far as Europe is concerned, placing Jadran among the 16 best clubs in Europe. Now it remains to be seen how the new, strong team from Zvončac will handle the best of the best.

The first game in the Champions League is scheduled for Tuesday, October 26, against Barceloneta.

Source: Dalmatinski Portal

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Wednesday, 26 May 2021

Mladost Becomes Croatian Water Polo Champion for First Time Since 2008!

May 26, 2021 - The 2020/2021 Croatian water polo champion has been named after the final fifth game between Mladost and Jug at the Dubrovnik swimming pool in Gruž.

Mladost became Croatian champions after beating the defending champion Jug AO 12-11 (2-1, 2-3, 1-1, 2-2; 5-4) in the decisive fifth game of the finals. Although they were down 0-2 in the finals, Mladost Zagreb managed to equalize at 2-2 thanks to two away victories against Dubrovnik club Jug AO. 

Today, the final fifth game was played in Dubrovnik.

This is the 11th title for Mladost, but the first after 2008 to break the dominance of Jug, which has won the last five championships.

Mladost reached the title with three consecutive victories, making up for the 0-2 deficit in the final series.

The last, fifth game of the Croatian championship took place in a very even game during all 32 minutes. Mladost was constantly in the lead, but at no point did they have an advantage of more than one goal, and with a goal for 7-7 17 seconds before the end, Garcia took the duel to a penalty shootout. 

During the penalty shootout, two of Loren Fatović's shots were saved by Mladost goalie Ivan Marcelić. Marcelić defended Fatović's attempt in the first series, and the Zagreb team kept that advantage until the third series when Toni Popadić defended Luka Bukić's attempt.

By the end of the fifth series, all the remaining players were successful, so the drama continued with the sixth series, in which the players who shot in the first had the opportunity to shoot again.

However, Fatović did not manage to defeat Marcelić even from the second attempt, and then the Romanian veteran Cosmin Radu was precise for the big Mladost celebration.

The most efficient for Mladost was Andro Bušlje with two goals, with one added by Lovre Miloš, Franko Lazić, Ante Visković, Konstantin Harkov, and Josip Vrlić, while the only double scorer for Jug AO was Paulo Obradović. Loren Fatović, Xavi Garcia, Alexandros Papanastasiou, Marko Žuvela, and Hrvoje Benić scored one each. 

Mladost coach Zoran Bajic was overjoyed to win the title.

"Such a turnaround can only be made by big teams, we have shown unity, heart, will. This was a water polo treat, the sugar at the end. I am extremely glad that after 13 years we have returned the title, we have shown that we are a real European club, and what will happen next is up to the leading people in the club. Luck eventually anointed us, we won on fives, but luck accompanies the brave," he pointed out.

"All goals today were crucial, especially penalties, that's luck, I can say a lottery. I can’t say that my goals were any more crucial than the others. We have shown in the last three games that we are the best team in Croatia. It was not easy to turn around, losing 2-0 in the final. We didn’t give up, we knew we weren’t in the pool for the first two games and then we decided to show that it wasn’t us. It opened up to us, we took advantage of the mistakes they made. Today the same was uncertain. The whole series was high quality," points out the best player of Mladost, Andro Bušlje.

"We deservedly lost the finals, Mladost was better, they won the Cup and the championship. We disappeared from the finals in the last three games. We were short of air, we couldn't match Mladost. Mladost had a better game, we currently do not have the physical and mental strength to win," said Jug coach Vjekoslav Kobešćak.

"We definitely lack the maturity to win a trophy and to play with teams like this," he added.

Mladost thus won 3:2 in the series with three away victories in a row!

Source: HRT

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Monday, 25 January 2021

Mladost Tops Jug to Defend Croatian Cup Title

January 25, 2021 - Mladost tops Jug to defend the Croatian Cup title (15:13).

Mladost defended the Croatian Cup on Sunday, lifting the trophy for the tenth time. Their opponent, Jug, remained with 14 titles and failed to reach their 66th trophy in history. 

Mladost opened the match well, especially with an extra man (which was a great bonus for them throughout the match), and led 4:2 at the end of the first quarter. Mladost was up by two goals in the middle of the second quarter (7:5). Jug fought back with four consecutive goals (Fatović penalty, Papanastasiou, Fatović, and Kržić) for a complete turnaround - 9:7 for Jug!

At half time, the Mladost coach replaced goalkeeper Ivan Marcelić with Jerko Jurlina, which proved to be one of the key decisions of the Mladost bench. However, at the beginning of the third quarter, Merkulov scored from a distance for 10:7, which, combined with Popadić defending a penalty, opened the door for Jug.

Mladost did not give up, and with a great defense and goals by Kharkov and Visković, they were just one goal behind before the last quarter (11:10 for Jug AO). At the beginning of the last quarter, Miloš equalized at 11:11. The last time Jug lead was thanks to Garcia (12:11 - six minutes before the end).

Kharkov attacked with three more goals, and four and a half minutes before the final buzzer, Mladost took the lead at 14:12 and managed to keep that advantage until the end.

The left-handed youngster, Russia national team player Konstantin Kharkov, was chosen as the best player of the final tournament. In addition to 3 goals in the semifinals against Primorje EB, he puzzled the mighty Jug defense, scoring 7 goals in the final.

Zoran Bajić, Mladost coach, said after the match: 

"To my boys, well done, they were fantastic. We were like a cat with 9 lives. We were behind and played great against Jug, a huge, fantastic team, but this is not the first time we have shown character. I have said many times that these are my warriors. Beating Jug in the last two and a half years in four finals is no small thing."

Vjekoslav Kobešćak, coach of Jug AO, added:

"Congratulations to Mladost on the victory. They were a better team today, calmer, and they deserved the victory. We only played one quarter properly, that was the second. The rest wasn't us. This is the second game in a row in which we received 15 goals from Mladost, and with so many goals conceded, serious water polo cannot be played, nor can we win a trophy."

Source: HRS

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Sunday, 29 November 2020

Croatian Water Polo Cup: Final Four Teams Determined

November 29, 2020 - The final four teams have been determined in the Croatian Water Polo Cup finals, which will be played in January.

Mladost Zagreb defeated OVK POŠK in the last round of the Croatian Cup qualifiers 15-6 (3-0, 4-1, 3-3, 5-2) and thus once again confirmed the leading position in group A, while Jug AO and Primorje EB secured the top spots in Group B.

The best scorer of the match between Mladost and POŠK was Mislav Vrlić who scored four goals. Thanks to a well-played qualifying tournament without a defeat, Mladost imposed itself as one of the strongest opponents in the upcoming Final Four of the Croatian Cup, which will be played on January 23 and 24, 2021.

"I think we achieved the ultimate goal, which is to be first in the group, which allows us to have an easier opponent in the Croatian Cup finals. The tournament itself was done really well. I would especially like to refer to the match against Jadran, which was our direct rival in the fight for first place. I think that we functioned like a Swiss watch and although Jadran showed strength and fighting spirit, we were a better opponent and deservedly achieved first place in the group," said Mladost coach Zoran Bajić.

In Dubrovnik, VK Jug AO beat VK Primorje 13-4, while EB Solaris defeated KPK 21-1. Despite the defeat, Primorje EB took second place in qualifying group B, and Solaris failed to achieve a place in the Final Four despite a big victory, and thanks to the goal differential. 

Rijeka will be a host in the Final Four as Primorje EB managed to qualify for the final tournament.

The semifinal pairs are as follows: Mladost - Primorje EB and Jug Adriatic osiguranje - Jadran. The final tournament will be played on January 23 and 24, 2021.

Qualification Group A:

OVK Pošk - HAVK Mladost 6-15 (0-3, 1-4, 3-3, 2-5)
Medveščak - Mornar 6-14 (0-1, 1-4, 1-6, 4-3)

1. HAVK Mladost 4    4    0    0    65:24    +41    12
2. VK Jadran Split 4    3    0    1    62:30    +32    9
3. VK Mornar BS 4    2    0    2    33:45    -12    6
4. VK Medveščak 4    1    0    3    34:62    -28    3
5. OVK POŠK 4    0    0    4    22:55    -33    0

Qualification Group B:

Galeb MR - Zadar 1952 12-8 (5-3, 2-1, 2-1, 3-3) 
Primorje EB - Jug AO 4-13 (0-4, 0-3, 1-4, 3-2)  
Solaris - KPK 21-1 (2-0, 7-0, 3-0,9-1 )

1. VK Jug AO 5    5    0    0    95:26    +69    15
2. VK Primorje EB 5     3    1    1    72:34    +38    10
3.  VK Solaris 5    3    1    1    72:36    +36    10
4.VK KPK  5     2    0    3    45:74    -29    6
5.VK Galeb MR 5     1    0    4    36:84    -48    3
6. VK Zadar 1952 5    0    0    5    27:93    -66    0

Source: HRT

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Friday, 2 October 2020

20th Croatian Water Polo Championships Begin this Weekend

October 2, 2020 - The Croatian Water Polo Championships return this weekend for the 20th season!

Dalmacija Danas reports that the smell of chlorine will once again fill the air this weekend as Croatian water polo clubs embark on a new journey to become champion. In the 19 championships so far, the most successful club with 16 titles is Jug Dubrovnik, which has also dominated Croatian pools in recent years.

Mladost was at its peak in the nineties and boasts 10 national championships. Primorje has won the championship twice in recent history, while only one Split club has managed to do so, and that is the Zenta club in 1998. A year later, the water polo club Posk became the European champion under the name Slobodna Dalmacija.

Last season, Mladost took the title of Adriatic League champions, and Jug once again became the champions of Croatia. Jug and Mladost should stay at the top this season as well.

The first part of the championship will be played in one round, and the second part in two groups before the teams meet in a"playoff" round.

This year, Jadran celebrated its 100th anniversary. Modestly, however, with only thirty people at dinner at Zvoncac. Last year, they played in the Champions League, which was interrupted and never resumed, as if it never happened. Jadran usually always sits behind Jug and Mladost in Croatia. 

At the end of last season, they had many departures and instead brought in several players from the younger categories, as the youth generation of the club is improving. Two, maybe three juniors will compete for the first team. After Ivan Asic, the first team is led by Mile Smodlaka (44) and sports director Dejan Savicevic. They are hoping for the Champions League this year as well, but first, they will have to do well at the qualifying tournament in Sicily, in Syracuse, in November. Their first-round match will be played in Split, on Saturday against Zadar at 7:30 pm.

Mornar celebrated 70 years last year and has their own story, though it was much better when Brodospas sponsored the club. But that was a long time ago. The first team coach is still Danijel Buric, who managed to keep only the center Buzdovacic for this season, who is a veteran in the team at the age of 29. Marin Vrdoljak, who is 21, has returned from Jadran, while the remaining team members are very young. The first round will also be played on Saturday at Poljud, the start of the match is at 6 pm, against Galeb.

Posk has a rejuvenated team. The coach remains Mirsad Zajmovic, who, along with Skolnekovic's son, will try to keep the club alive. The first round will be played in Rijeka against Primorje this Saturday at 8 pm.

The Croatian league has 11 clubs this season, and after 35 years, KPK returns to the elite Croatian competition. KPK is a Korcula club with a long tradition and rich water polo history. They have a new pool, old fame, and a lot of enthusiasm.

The regional league will be played sometime next year, according to the tournament system. Unfortunately, fans are not yet allowed to watch from the stands. 

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Thursday, 23 July 2020

Croatian Water Polo Championships: Jug One Step Closer to Title

July 23, 2020 - In the second match of the playoff finals for the Croatian champion, played on Wednesday night in Zagreb, Dubrovnik's Jug AO were better than the home team Mladost in yet another penalty shootout and celebrated 13-11 (2-2, 3-3, 4-2, 1-3, 3-1) to take the 2-0 lead in the series to three wins.

HRT reports that the match ended in a 10-10 draw, and Jug goalkeeper Toni Popadic brought the Dubrovnik club the victory in the shootout with two crucial saves.

During regulation time, Jug's best scorer was Loren Fatovic with five goals, Alexandros Papanastasiou scored three, and Luka Loncar and Filip Krzic scored one goal each. Mladost's top scorer was Lovre Milos with four goals, Matias Biljaka scored two, and Milos Cuk, Luka Bukic, Franko Lazic and Konstantin Harkov scored one goal each.

After a tie game during the first two quarters, Jug created a three-goal lead in the third quarter (9-6), but the home team responded with a four-goal streak and took a 10-9 lead two and a half minutes before the end.

In the remaining time, only Filip Krzic managed to get past Mladost goalkeeper Marcelic to equalize at 10-10. Mladost had an attack to win, but the crossbar stopped Bowen's shot, so, just like in the first game, the winner was decided in a penalty shootout.

Here, the Dubrovnik team showed much more precision, and their goalkeeper Toni Popadic stopped the shots of Bukic and Lazic, while Bowen hit the crossbar. Thus, Jug took a 2-0 lead in the final series, and in three days, Vjekoslav Kobescak's team will have the opportunity to win the Croatian championship title for the fifth time in a row, and for the 16th time in total.

The third game of the finals is scheduled for Saturday, starting at 8:15 pm, and will be played in Dubrovnik at the Gruz swimming pool.

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Sunday, 19 July 2020

Croatian Water Polo Championship Finals: Jug Leads Mladost 1:0

July 19, 2020 - In the first game of the Croatian Championship finals, which took place in Dubrovnik, Dubrovnik water polo club Jug defeated Zagreb's Mladost with a better performance in the penalty shootout for a score of 18-16 (5-2, 4-4, 3-4, 1-3 - 5-3) to lead the series 1:0.

HRT reports that Mladost did not have the strength to beat Jug twice in Dubrovnik in just four days after they celebrated to win the Adriatic Regional League title on Wednesday. The Dubrovnik team started the match much better and were up by three points at half time. Mladost was also left without their best player, Milos Cuk, due to a penalty. However, the Zagreb club proved to be more physically prepared again, gained an advantage, and scored five points before the end of the match with a goal by American player Alex Bowen.

In the penalty shootout, all five players of Jug hit the net, while Jug goalkeeper Popadic defended Luka Bukic's shot.

Hrvoje Benic scored five goals for Jug, while Luka Bukic, Konstantin Harkov and Alex Bowen scored three goals each for Mladost.

The finals feature the only two clubs with a double-digit number of Croatian championships won - Jug has 15 titles, and Mladost 10.

The second match will be played in Zagreb, on July 22, starting at 6:45 PM, and the third match will be in Dubrovnik on July 25 (8:15 PM). Possible fourth and fifth matches will be played in Zagreb on July 29 and Dubrovnik on August 2.

Jadran Split and Solaris Sibenik met for the first game in the series for 3rd place on Saturday night at the outdoor Zvoncac pool in Split. The Split club defeated Solaris 13:9. The two clubs will meet for the second match on Monday, July 20, 2020, in Sibenik. 

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Thursday, 16 July 2020

Mladost Defeats Jug to Defend Regional League Title

July 16, 2020 - Zagreb's Mladost defended the title of the Adriatic Regional League, defeating the host Jug AO Dubrovnik 15-11 (3-2, 3-5, 7-2, 2-2) in the final played at the open swimming pool in Dubrovnik's Gruz.

HRT reports that Mladost reached their second title in this competition primarily with a great third quarter, which they won 7-2. The team from Zagreb managed to neutralize Loren Fatovic, who scored as many as five goals in the first two quarters, while the other players of the home team were utterly harmless in the attack.

On the other hand, Harkov filled Popadic's net with three goals and Cuk with two long-range shots. Perhaps the critical moment of the game happened in the middle of the third quarter, more precisely with the 10-8 result for Mladost, when the referees assessed that after Papanastasiou's shot, the ball did not cross the goal line, although the impression is that the Jug center scored.

The most efficient player for Mladost was Serbian player Milos Cuk with five goals, Konstantin Harkov added three, Alexander Bowen and Lovre Miloc scored two, and Cosmin Radu, Luka Bukic and Josip Vrlic scored one goal each. Loren Fatovic scored six times for Jug AO, though no one else scored more than one goal, including Filip Krzic, Danil Merkulov, Marko Zuvela, Hrvoje Benic and Paulo Obradovic. Ivan Marcelic was also great at the gates of Mladost with 14 saves.

Jug AO and Mladost will soon start the final series of the playoffs for the title of Croatian champion. The champion will be the team that is the first to achieve three victories, and the first game on the program is on Saturday in Dubrovnik.

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Thursday, 2 July 2020

Croatian Water Polo Championships: Jug and Mladost Better in First Round of Semis

July 2, 2020 - The semifinal round of the Croatian Water Polo Championships kicked off on Wednesday in Dubrovnik and Zagreb. Jug met Solaris, while Mladost met Jadran. 

Dubrovnik's Jug AO and Zagreb's Mladost achieved victories in the first matches of the semifinals of the Croatian Championship on Wednesday, July 1, 2020.

The famous Dubrovnik side topped Solaris Sibenik 17-6 at the Gruz swimming pool, while Mladost was better than Jadran Split 13-12 at the Mladost outdoor swimming pool along the Sava.

Interestingly, Solaris took a 2-0 lead, but Jug equalized to 2-2 by the end of the first quarter, and then won the second and third quarters 10-2. The Dubrovnik side was convincing in the last period with 5-2, for the final score of 17-6.

Jug AO was led to victory by Obradovic, who scored six goals, and Fatovic, who scored three goals. Solaris, on the other hand, had six players who scored one goal each. The second match of this semifinal meeting will be played on Friday, July 3, in Sibenik.

In the second semifinal match on Wednesday, Jadran met Mladost in Zagreb. 

Mladost led 4-0 lead, and at the beginning of the last quarter, they were up by five goals (10-5). However, a rocky ending gave the Zagreb club a narrow victory. Jadran managed a score of 7-3 in the last quarter, threatening Mladost's secure celebration.

Mladost was led to victory by Cuk, who scored four goals, while Harkov scored three goals, and Milos and Bukic scored two goals each. Setka was the best for Jadran with four goals, and Krapic followed with three goals to be the most efficient among the visiting team.

The second semifinal match is on Saturday in Split.

Recall, two victories are needed in the semifinal round to secure a spot in the final. Thus, a third semifinal game is theoretically possible.

Source: HRT

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