Zagreb, 21 February 2021 - In dramatic unravelling of Olympic qualifying tournament in Rotterdam, the Netherlands, the Croatian water polo players secured their performance at the Tokyo Olympics (July 23rd - August 8th). After Saturday's semi-finals "roulette", where they were beaten by the Montenegrin team, Ivica Tucak's selectees had enough strength, skill and sports luck to beat the Russians (25-24) in the same but even more dramatic way. After 11-11 in four quarters of the game, they needed 15 series of five-meter penalty shots for Tokyo's Olympic "visa".
Croatia thus became the last, 12th national team to make appearance at the Summer Olympics in Tokyo. Previously, this status was secured by the host Japan, Serbia, Italy, Spain, USA, Australia, South Africa, Hungary, Kazakhstan, Montenegro and Greece.
At the Summer Olympics in Tokyo, Croatia will play in the Group B against Serbia (defending Olympic gold and World League winner in 2019), Spain (World Vice-Champions), Montenegro (bronze from the last European Championships in Budapest), Australia (Head Coach our Elvis Fatović) and Kazakhstan. Olympic tournament’s Group A includes Hungary, Greece, Italy, USA, Japan and South Africa.
President of the Croatian Olympic Committee (HOO) Zlatko Mateša and Secretary General Josip Čop congratulated water polo players on winning the performance at Tokyo Olympics:
Dear water polo players,
With great will and courage, with sports luck that proverbially accompanies the brave, you won the Olympic "visa" for Tokyo, as the first Croatian team from team sports. May such fighting and team spirit accompany you in your performances at the Tokyo Olympics. Congratulations to all players, coach Tucak and the professional staff, as well as the Croatian Water Polo Federation, on our own behalf and on behalf of the entire Croatian Olympic Family!