The Croatian water polo team has started the new World League with a victory on Tuesday night in Athens.
In the 1st round of Group D, Croatia beat the Olympic silver medalists from Tokyo Greece, 12:11.
Greece started the stronger of the two teams and raced out to a 4:2 lead. Croatia equalised at the start of the second quarter but the hosts would lead at halftime 6:5. Greece extended their lead to 7:5 before Croatia made their comeback, after levelling at at 7:7, Croatia took the lead 8:7, then 12:9 before eventually winning a tight match.
To make matters tougher, Croatia were forced to play half the match without captain Ivan Krapić who was forced out with an injury. Player of the match went to Croatia’s Josip Vrlić.
Ivica Tucak, Croatian coach: “I am satisfied. This is our first official match after the Olympics, and we have completely changed the national team. This is a very positive result because we still played against the Olympic runner-up team. You saw at the start that the players are still a bit under that impression and that’s what I always repeat. It will take some time. The contours of the game exist and that is what makes me happy as a coach. At the moment this is very good, we have made a significant step towards the final European tournament of the World League. Kudos to all the players and let’s move on.”
Croatia’s next match in the World League is on 15 February against Russia.