Josip Vrlić Retires from Croatia Water Polo? Coach Tucak and Player Misunderstanding

Daniela Rogulj

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Croatia water polo coach Ivica Tucak announced a broader list of players he’ll use to prepare for the European Championships in Split (August 27 – September 10). There are 22 water polo players on the list, and compared to the team that recently played at the FINA World Championships in Budapest, there is no Josip Vrlić, announced HVS on Tuesday. 

Namely, HVS reported that Croatia’s oldest player (36), who has played for Croatia since 2018, spoke with coach Tuck after the World Championships, and taking into account the strenuous upcoming preparations, combined with his age of 36, he thanked the coach and said he is no longer ready to contribute at the highest level needed by the national team. He was thereby opening up space for a younger player. 

But that’s not quite what happened. 

“Vrlić called me after the announcement of the list of the players. He said that he wanted to remain part of us, that we didn’t understand each other very well, at least. I accepted his request. He will skip the basic preparations in Kranj. Vrlić will join the team in Šibenik before the match against Hungary. He is experienced enough that he has no problem missing training because there are players like him who need rest more than training. In any case, better news than what originally was announced for all of us,” coach Tucak said for Sportske Novosti on Tuesday evening. 

The list of candidates does not include Hrvoje Benić, who missed the FINA World Championships in Hungary due to a shoulder injury that required surgery. The recovery process of the defender is still ongoing, and he is not ready for the upcoming preparations. However, goalkeeper Ivan Marcelić, who missed the World Championships in Hungary due to injury, returns to the roster. 


Marko Bijač
Toni Popadić
Ivan Marcelić
Jerko Jurlina


Ivan Krapić
Lovro Paparić
Branimir Herceg
Antonio Dužević


Rino Burić
Marko Žuvela
Matias Biljaka
Kristijan Milaković


Luka Bukić
Loren Fatović
Konstantin Harkov
Ante Vukičević
Franko Lazić
Jerko Marinić Kragić
Andrija Bašić
Dario Rakovac
Filip Kržić
Ivan Domagoj Zović

Preparation plan:

– July 17-28: basic preparations in Kranj (Slovenia)

– August 1-6: preparations in Šibenik with a Croatia-Hungary friendly scheduled (August 5)

– August 8-10: tournament in Cagliari (Italy) – Italy, Croatia, Serbia, Greece

– August 15-19: preparations in Šibenik

– August 20-22: tournament in Belgrade (Serbia) – Serbia, Croatia, France, Italy

– August 25: final preparations in Split

The first match at the European Championships in Split will be against Malta on August 29 (9 pm).

To read more about sports in Croatia, follow TCN’s dedicated page.


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