Croatia entered this match without three important players, Ćamila Mičijević, Ivana Dežić, and Dora Krsnik, who are out of the squad after testing positive for Covid-19. Coach Nenad Šoštarić had 10 players and three goalkeepers at his disposal for the match against Japan.
Croatia fought a great battle against a persistent, tough, and quick Japan, led about 50 minutes of the match, but were left without strength in the end. Croatia did not score a goal in the last seven minutes, and after leading 23:20 in the 46th minute, they fell behind 24:26. Mistakes plagued the end of the match and defeat was inevitable.
Larissa Kalaus scored six goals for Croatia and Ana Turk five, while Nakayama led Japan with nine goals.
Croatia played against Japan only once before at the 2005 World Championship in Russia.
The match against Japan was important because the winner transfers two points to the second round. Three national teams advance from each group. After that, four new groups of six teams will be formed, and the national teams will transfer the points won against other teams from the group to the second round.
Thus, Japan will transfer two points to the second round of the competition, while Croatia will not transfer any, because they only won against Paraguay, which ended its journey in the championship.
In the second match of the group, Brazil defeated Paraguay 33-19. Thus, in the second round, Brazil transferred four points, Japan two, and Croatia no points.
In the second round in Alicante, Croatia will play Spain (4), Argentina (2), and Austria (0).
CROATIA: Bešen (0+1), Kapitanović, Pijević (6); P. Posavec 3, S. Posavec 3, Kalaus 6(3), Ježić 4, Burić, Šimara, Debelić 4, Turk 5, Mamić, Blažević 1. Coach: Nenad Šoštarić.
JAPAN: Kametani (8+1), Baba; Nagata 1, Fujita, Gray, Ohyama 1(1), Aizawa 3, Matsumoto, Iwabuchi, Kondo 2, Nakayama 9(4), Yamamoto, Kitihara 4, Sahara 2, Hattori 6(1), Yoshidome. Coach: Shigeo Kusomoto.
7-meter throws: Croatia 4(3), Japan 9(6).
Exclusions: Hrvatska 8 minutes, Japan 12 minutes
Player of the match: Kaho Nakayama.
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