The Barracudas, the reigning World Champions, were pushed to the edge by a tough German squad on Tuesday morning before breaking a last-quarter deadlock to win 10:8.
Maro Joković, who scored two of his three goals for Croatia in the final quarter to break free of Germany, said he was unhappy with his team’s performance during the knock out phase of the FINA World Aquatics Championships underway in Gwangjun, South Korea.
"The only thing about this game we can be happy about is that we moved on to the semifinals," said a disappointed Maro Joković.
Absolutely nothing about the team's game plan had worked out, said Joković. "I think we entered the game too relaxed and our offense wasn't working as well as we've been used to this tournament; that's what hurt us the most. Our experience and composure secured us the win in the end and got us to the semifinals," he said.
For his part, head coach Ivica Tucak said the most important thing was advancing to the next round.
"I knew it was going to be like this, maybe not so close but it is what it is. When you go up against a team with nothing to lose, and who are physically strong, things can easy turn against you," said Tucak.
"The important thing is that we achieved our main goal, and that is to compete for a medal. Now we have two important steps on that path in front of us: the semifinals and - God willing - the finals," said the coach.
Croatia will take on Spain in the first semi-final on Thursday.
Spain reached the semis after a convincing 12:9 win over Serbia, the 2016 Olympic gold medalists from Rio de Janeiro.
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