HVS reports that the USA joined Croatia in Zagreb for their Olympic qualifying preparations before the team heads to Rotterdam next week. The USA national team led by Serbian expert Dejan Udovicic will play five training matches with Croatia, while two of them will be official matches. In other words, matches with referees, a scoreboard, and timekeeping.
“We couldn’t have wished for a better sparring partner at this moment and for what awaits us. They are a phenomenally physically fit team, exceptional swimmers. They have a rough style of play that is on the verge of exclusion or personal fouls, and that is how I expect Russia and Germany to play against us in Rotterdam in the group. Both France and the Netherlands will probably try because they are technically inferior to us, but they can match our strength, wrestling, and swimming. Thus, the USA will be of great help to us before the tournament in Rotterdam,” said Croatia coach Ivica Tucak before the first match on Saturday evening at 7 pm.
For the past few months, the USA first worked together with Greece in Athens, then won the tournament in Podgorica, defeating Montenegro and the B team of Serbia, and before arriving in Zagreb, trained with Serbia in Belgrade. After Zagreb, they plan to train with Italy in Recco. What is special about the current USA national team is that atypical for pre-Olympic years, many of their national team players are playing in Europe. Most of them, as many as 13 of them, are in Greece, and one member of Team USA is also in Croatia – Alex Obert at Jug Adriatic Osiguranje. The reason is quite clear, in the USA, there are mostly universities, while sports complexes and swimming pools are closed. Since there are no competitions, it is only logical that their national team members enjoy what Europe offers.
Two of the Croatia-USA matches are friendly, though they should have a competitive zeal. Apart from the American way of approaching sports, it should be noted that Croatia will play with full force, especially after Tucak announced that these two games should dispel any minor doubts he has about the player list for Rotterdam.
“These few days with the Americans will surely come in handy. The staff will get an even clearer picture of the team to make the best use of it in Rotterdam,” adds the captain of the national team Andro Bušlje.
Center Luka Lončar added:
“What we are doing here now is the final glaze, implementing the coach’s tactical ideas, as if we were at the highest level in Rotterdam. The atmosphere is great, as if we have been working together, playing together, and have been friends for several years.”
Croatia and the USA will also meet on Sunday, February 7 at 7 pm. Since spectators are not allowed at the Sava swimming pool, you can watch both matches live on Planet Sport 1 or stream them at the Croatian Water Polo Federation Facebook page (hvs.hr).
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