Category: Sport

’70%’ Hajduk Keep UEFA Europa League Dream Alive

CroatiaCroatian side Hajduk Split have scored a vital away goal in Ukraine last night in the first leg of their UEFA Europa League play-off against Dnjipro…

Coach Igor Tudor believes that the 1-2 scoreline leaves the return leg at Split’s Poljud stadium wide open.

“If it stayed at 1:1, or like it finished 2:1 to Dnjipro, we still have to win in Split. It is a shame we conceded the second goal, but the result still leaves it open for revenge, and we have to win if we want to think about qualifying,” Tudor said, before adding that his side were only playing to 70% of what they are capable of.

“Two things are important, that the tie is still open, and that I am convinced we can play a lot better than we did. We were at 70%,” Tudor

Croatia’s other three clubs, Dinamo Zagreb, Split, Rijeka, who are still in with a chance of UEFA Europa League football play the first leg of their quaifiers tonight.

Kovač Names New Look Croatia

CroatiaCroatia coach Niko Kovač has named a new look side ahead of a friendly against Cyprus and a EURO 2016 qualifier against Malta next month…

In his first side since the failure in Brazil, Kovač has named a number of new faces from the World Cup, including – Alen Halilović, Andrej Kramarić, Marko Pjaca, Tin Jedvaj, Anas Sharbini and Duje Čop. Gordon Schildenfeld, Sammir, Milan Badelj and Ivan Perišić were all ruled out through injury, whilst suspension rules out Ante Rebić.

“There are plenty of new faces, young lads, and now is the time to change something and give them a chance. Why not? In a couple of years, they can become top players and during this preparation phase we will try to see how things might work in the future,” Kovač said at Wednesday’s press conference.

In the EURO 2016 qualifyers, Croatia will face Malta, Azerbaijan, Bulgaria, Norway and Italy.

“No qualifying round is easy. Italy went to Brazil, Bulgaria nearly missed the World Cup, Norway is a tough team once again, and Azerbaijan is always tricky. However, our goal is to secure EURO 2016 berth and I feel very optimistic. I hope that we have prepared a good combination of experience and youth. Italy and Croatia are the favourites, but it is too early to think about Italy. The beginning against Malta is crucial, we need to win in order to relieve the pressure”, said Kovač.

Croatia was disappointed to exit the World Cup in the group phase, but will come out even stronger, said Kovač:

“We had both good and bad moments in Brazil. Moreover, we have certainly learned something. Losing to Mexico will not discourage us. It will give us more strength and more motivation”.

Croatia face Cyprus in Pula on 4 September, and Malta five days later in Zagreb in EURO 2016 qualifying.

Keepers: Danijel Subašić, Lovre Kalinić, Ivan Vargić

Defenders: Darijo Srna, Vedran Ćorluka, Dejan Lovren, Ivan Strinić, Hrvoje Milić, Domagoj Vida, Šime Vrsaljko, Tin Jedvaj

Midfield: Luka Modrić, Ivan Rakitić, Danijel Pranjić, Mateo Kovačić, Alen Halilović, Marcelo Brozović, Mario Pašalić

Strikers: Mario Mandžukić, Ivica Olić, Nikica Jelavić, Anas Sharbini, Duje Čop, Andrej Kramarić, Marko Pjaca

Croatiapic: Drago Sopta / HNS

Modrić Signs New 4-Year Deal With Real Madrid

CroatiaCroatian midfielder Luka Modrić has signed a new 4-year-deal with Real Madrid which will see him stay at the Santiago Bernabeu till 2018…

Modrić, who moved from Tottenham Hotspur in the summer of 2012, has proven to be a key part of Real Madid’s side in the last two seasons, guiding them to the UEFA Champions League last season. In 106 matches for the club, Modrić has won the Champions League, King’s Cup, the European Super Cup and Spain’s Super Cup. He has scored 6 goals since making his debut on 29 August 2012. (pic: Real Madrid)

Gold for Croatia at Youth Olympic Summer Games in China

CroatiaCroatian Brigita Matić has won gold in the U78 kg Judo final at the 2nd Youth Olympic Summer Games in Nanjing, China…

Matić (18) won Croatia’s first gold medal with three straight victories at the games. In the quarter-final the Split teenager was too good for Venezuelan Elvismar Rodriguez. Matić then went on to beat South African Unelle Snyman in the semi final and Aleksandra Samardžić from Bosnia and Herzegovina in the final. (photo credit: Mario Krvavac)

Medveščak Sign Swedish Goalie

CroatiaCroatia’s Kontinental Hockey League side Medveščak have signed Swedish goalie Christian Engstrand for the up coming season, the club reported on Tuesday…

Engstrand (25) joins the Zagreb club from SHL club Linkoping, and will be making his debut in the strong KHL this season.

“With Engstrand the club gets another goalie that can play at the KHL level. He understands the situation here, that he’s going to have to fight for his position and will have to wait for his chance to play and help us win. But despite that, he wants to come here and work hard. We have sixty games ahead of us in the regular season, along with the Spengler Cup, so we need another high quality goalie”, said Medvescak’s sport’s director Aaron Fox.

Engstrand had a 93.6% save average and a 1.89 goals against average in 2012-13, along with a 90.3% save average and 2.79 GAA in 2013-14.

Croatian Striker Reports Chinese Club to FIFA for Failing to Pay Wages

Croatia4-cap Croatian international Leon Benko is back in his home town of Varaždin after his stint with Chinese Super League club Dalian Aerbin turned sour, resulting in the former Rijeka striker reporting the club to football’s governing body FIFA…

Benko (30) walked out on his Chinese club after he claims that he did not receive his wages for three months.

“I don’t have any obligations towards Dalian Aerbin. There is a FIFA law that says if the player doesn’t get paid for 90 days that player becomes a free agent,” Benko was quoted as saying by China’s Xinhua news agency, before adding.

“I didn’t get paid for 90 days so I am free to sign the contract with any club. I’m not going back to China. I’m waiting for the FIFA ruling. I expect to have it by the end of September and then I will be able to talk about all the details of my case and about everything that I went through.”

Benko spent six months with Dalian, signing back in February after setting the Croatian first division on fire with Rijeka which led to him being recalled to the Croatian national team. (Photo credit: HNS)

Slaven Bilić Not Making Excuses Ahead of Important Arsenal Clash

bilic“If we beat Arsenal it won’t be a miracle, it definitely won’t be breaking news on CNN,” that is what Bešiktaš boss Slaven Bilić has said ahead of his sides important UEFA Champions League play-off tie with Arsenal which kicks off tomorrow…
The former Croatia international could join a short list of Croatian coaches to lead a side in the prestigious UEFA Champions League if his side can beat Arsene Wenger’s Arsenal over two legs.

“Arsenal are favourites, we wanted them the least in the draw, but what does that mean? That we don’t have anything to lose because they are the favourites? F**k that!,” said Bilić, who will have 15 million Turks behind his side tomorrow night.

“We have 15 million fans in Turkey, people pass me on the street and say ‘Arsenal are going down’. That is huge pressure, but I am a coach of a big club and I love that kind of pressure,” said the former Croatia coach, who says he has turned down jobs in the English Premiership 7 times.

“Seven times they called me. I love English football and if you asked me where I would love to coach in the future then it is definitely England. But, the future is the future, I am in Istanbul now and it is beautiful,” Bilić concluded.

Bronze for Croatia as Ana Šimić Comes Third at European Championships in Zurich

CroatiaJust 24 hours after Sandra Perković made history by winning gold, there has been more glory for Croatian athletes at the European Championships in Zurich…

Ana Šimić has won bronze on Sunday after she jumped a personal best in the final of the Women’s High Jump event at the European Athletics Championships in Switzerland. Šimić, from the capital Zagreb, jumped 1.99 metres, once centimetre higher than her personal best of 1.98 metres, to claim bronze. (pic: Reuters)

Sandra Perković Creates History With European Championship Gold in Zurich

CroatiaCroatia’s Olympic and World discus champion Sandra Perković has won her third European Championship gold medal in a row on Saturday in Switzerland to create history..

Perković won gold when she won the discus final at the European Athletics Championship in Zurich with a throw of 71.08 metres, setting a new Croatian record in the process. Perković, who has recorded the top four distances in the world this year, confirmed her favourite status when she threw the gold-winning discus in her fifth attempt.

Sandra’s previous European Championship golds came in Barcelona in 2010 and in Helsinki in 2012 and now the Croatian becomes the first female discus thrower to win three consecutive European Championships.

Croatia Climbs One Spot in FIFA Rankings

CroatiaCroatia have climbed one spot in the FIFA World Rankings for August…

Nike Kovač’s side occupy 16th spot on the list of the best teams in world, which is headed by Germany. In second spot are fellow finalists Argentina, with Holland claiming third. Mexico, who knocked Croatia out of the World Cup in Brazil, are ranked below Croatia.

FIFA Rankings:
1. Germany 1736
2. Argentina 1604
3. Holland 1507
4. Columbia 1495
5. Belgium 1407
6. Uruguay 1316
7. Spain 1241
-. Brazil 1241
9. Switzerland 1218
10. France 1212

16. Croatia 964

(pic: Drago Sopta / HNS)