Croatia, the reigning World Champions, will not defend the World Water Polo Championships after losing to Spain 6:5 in the semifinals on Thursday.
A dejected and somewhat resigned Ivica Tucak, the head coach of the Croatian national team, told reporters after the game that while he was happy with his team’s play on defense, the offense was seriously lacking. "It's difficult for me to say anything now, other than we deserved to lose. Absolutely nothing worked with our offense, we still have to analyze the game, but I can't figure out why we had so much fear and respect for them. I don't want to belittle the Spanish goal man, but to shoot this poorly, even from set positions, doesn't make sense."
Center Andro Bušlje felt Croatia failed to capitalize on its chances and missed an excellent opportunity to qualify for the Tokyo Olympics in 2020. "Unfortunately today wasn't our day. It's a shame, because we had a big chance to secure a place at next year's Olympics, but we fell short and will have to play qualifications. What's done is done, now we have to turn our focus to the next game and try to win the bronze."
Croatia will play old rivals Hungary on Saturday for the bronze medal. Croatia is looking to extend its streak of winning a medal at the World Championships to seven. The streak began with the gold medal in Melbourne in 2007, followed by three bronze medals in Rome in 2009, Shanghai in 2011 and Barcelona in 2013, a silver medal in Kazan in 2015 and the gold again in Budapest in 2017.
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