Croatia water polo coach Ivica Tucak announced a list of 13 players who will represent Croatia at the FINA World Championships from July 14 to 27 in Gwangju, South Korea. Croatia will try to defend the World Championship title, which they won in 2017, and secure their spot at the Tokyo Olympics next summer, reports Gol.hr on July 3, 2019.
Tucak stressed that it was challenging to pick just 13 players out of the 20 who participated in the preparations in Šibenik, though he decided on goalkeepers Marko Bijač and Ivan Marcelić, defenders Andro Bušlje, Hrvoje Benić and Marko Macan, centers Luka Lončar and Josip Vrlić, and drivers Loren Fatović, Maro Joković, Javier Garcia, Ante Vukičević, Lovro Miloš and Anđelo Šetka.
“We have another dilemma, that is, a little problem with defender Marko Macan who broke his hand a few weeks ago and will be initially among the 13 players, but we have the right to make a change before the start, depending on the medical prognosis. The 14th player is Ivan Buljubašić. I want to thank this wonderful guy and top professional who has marked the last ten years of Croatian water polo, and it was not easy for him to travel and wait to see what the situation would be. This is proof of the cohesion in the team because it is not easy to accept such a decision,” Tucak said, pointing out that the ambitions of the World Championships are great because not only do they want to defend the title but it is crucial to qualify for the Tokyo Olympics.
HVS Vice-President and Executive Director Perica Bukić pointed out that going to the World Championships is the crown of the season, where Croatia has won six won medals, of which two are gold.
“No other team in history has been able to achieve this. A medal in South Korea would be the seventh consecutive medal at the World Championships. The first goal, of course, is to defend the gold, and we will do everything to get to the final,” said Bukić.
“There are two spots for Tokyo at the World Championships, so the priority is to enter the final. I’m sure that we can and we also have quality, and the atmosphere in the team is superb. I hope we will come back with good results,” said captain Bušlje.
The World Championships is scheduled for July 14 to July 27. Croatia opens the tournament on July 15 against Australia. In the second round, on July 17, Croatia plays against the USA, and in the final duel of the group stage, on July 19, Croatia plays Kazakhstan.
The first team in each of the four groups will go directly to the quarter-finals, and the second and third place teams will play for the remaining top 8 positions.
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