Could Croatia’s Upcoming World Cup Qualifier be Played at Rujevica?

Daniela Rogulj

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Thunderstorms and abundant rain could make a significant impact on Osijek’s pitch over the next few weeks. The talk of moving to plan B, Rujevica, is becoming more serious.

You all remember the disastrous Croatian national team World Cup qualifier against Kosovo earlier this month. Held at Maksimir Stadium under horrific conditions and a pitch that could hardly sustain light rain, one of the best national teams in the world were forced to try their hands at water polo, not football, as they struggled to swim through a soaked and soused pitch. 

While the game was scheduled for the following day under somewhat better conditions, this was no way to host our Croatian national team. At the very least, the catastrophic conditions at Maksimir forced positive conversations about the state of Croatian football stadiums, and as it turns out, the Croatian Football Federation may very well be making moves to avoid anything as dreadful to happen ever again. 

That said, Croatia could potentially play the last domestic match of the World Cup 2018 qualifiers at Rujevica Stadium in Rijeka, reports on September 19, 2017. 

Namely, the game against Finland, which is scheduled to take place on October 6, 2017, is to be held in Osijek at City Garden Stadium, but questionable weather and heavy rains have prompted representatives of HNS to think about changing the current venue. 

For some time now, the Croatian Football Federation has thought Rujevica would be an adequate substitute venue for the duel against Finland, and it is becoming increasingly more likely that this fight will actually be played in Rijeka. Because the head of HNS would be foolish to risk having the Croatian national team play in unfit conditions three days before the crucial face off with Ukraine, the thought of succumbing to playing on a terrible, and probably muddy pitch at City Garden in Osijek may not be such a good idea. 

While this is still in the stage of serious consideration, it seems that coach Ante Čačić would more than happily welcome the decision for the match against Finland to be held at Rujevica. 

It is evident that Rujevica is more than capable of handling abundant amounts of rain, and given that Rijeka will not play on their home turf until October 21, 2017, it sounds more and more like the right decision. 

A decision will be officially confirmed by the end of the week, but all current indicators and unofficial information by point to a Croatia and Finland matchup in Rijeka. 


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