FINA World Championships: Croatia Water Polo Tops Australia in 1st Round (14:4)

Daniela Rogulj

July 15, 2019 – The Croatia water polo team kicked off their World Championship campaign in Gwangju,  South Korea against Australia in Group B. 

After a month of preparations and tournaments, from Zagreb to Belgrade, Šibenik to Split, and Seoul to Gwangju, Croatia water polo finally began their World Championships on Monday at 12:30 pm Gwangju time (5:30 am in Croatia).

The 18th FINA World Championships are also of particular importance to Croatia – not only are they on a mission to secure a spot at the Tokyo Olympics next summer, but they’re determined to defend the title from Budapest in 2017, and, at the very least, win a medal (which would be their seventh consecutive at the World Champs). 

Thus, on Monday morning, Croatia met Australia, the strongest rival in Group B, and considered one of the toughest non-European teams who have a chance at winning a medal this tournament. Recall, just last month, Australia finished third in the World League finals in Belgrade, just after Croatia in second. They are coached by Croatian Elvis Fatović, after all. 

However, Croatia didn’t have much difficulty getting the result they wanted today. 

The first quarter ended 4:1 for Croatia, while the second finished 2:1 for a 6:2 Croatia lead at the half. Croatia’s dominance and superb defense showed especially in the third quarter, where they managed four goals and allowed Australia none. The fourth quarter ended 4:2 for Croatia, for a final score of 14:4. We must tip our hats to Croatia’s 28-year-old goalkeeper Marko Bijač, who was brilliant for the entirety of the match. 

Apart from Australia, Croatia plays in Group B against the United States and Kazakhstan. The United States and Kazakhstan met in the game before Croatia and Australia where the US won 16:7. 

The Croatia water polo team will play the US next in two days on July 17th at 9:50 am Gwangju time (2:50 am Croatia time). Croatia’s final group game is against Kazakhstan on Friday, July 19th, at 8:30 pm Gwangju time (1:30 Croatia time). 

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