European Championships | 27 Jan 2023


The Croatian table tennis team achieved an important victory in the second match of the European Championship Stage one; Croatia beat Austria 3:2 in Dubrovnik.

With this victory, a huge step was taken towards qualifying for the final stage of the European Championships in Malmo. Croatia is the leading team in the group with 2-0, Austria is second with 1-1, and Spain has two defeats.

The Austrians arrived in Dubrovnik without GARDOS, but they still had a dream start. LEVENKO defeated GAĆINA 3:0, and then HABESOHN saved 0:2 against PUCAR. Croatia recovered and showed strong character. ZELJKO outplayed SERDAROGLU 3:0, and GAĆINA continued in the same rhythm with HABESOHN (3:0). In the end, PUCAR totally dominated and beat LEVENKO with 3:0.

"In the first two matches, the problem was, it might sound strange, that the host made so much effort around us. The organization was great, but we were burnt out by too much desire, and could not give our best. Both Andrej GAĆINA and Tomislav PUCAR played below their level in the first two matches. Filip ZELJKO brought extra energy to the hall with his performance, and the other players felt it as well. It's as if they woke up" said Croatian coach Neven KARKOVIĆ.

Croatia played in Dubrovnik for the first time, and it turned out to be a great success because the atmosphere was great. It is not surprising that the Croats celebrated the victory by singing with the fans.

"We have been to places where there were spectators, but nowhere did we feel that connection with them, as was the case now in Dubrovnik. These were two fantastic days for us" said KARKOVIĆ.

The match started with a big round of applause for Marinko MATULOVIĆ, long-time president of club Libertas Marinkolor and former vice-president of the Croatian Table Tennis Association. Zoran PRIMORAC and Renato ČENGIĆ, president and director of CTTA, presented MATULOVIĆ with an award for his great contribution to Croatian table tennis. That is why it is not surprising that the applause lasted because MATULOVIĆ played table tennis in the south of Croatia for more than 20 years.

"First, I would like to thank the City of Dubrovnik for hosting this match, then club Libertas Marinkolor for the extraordinary organization, and finally, a big thank you to the spectators who raised us from the dead when we were losing 2:0. When ZELJKO easily won that third match, I felt that everything was turning in our favor. Once again, thank you Dubrovnik," said Zoran PRIMORAC, president of CTTA.

Gaćina - Levenko 0:3 (-11, -8, -7)
Pucar - Habesohn 2:3 (2, 7, -5, -8, -4)
Zeljko - Serdaroglu 3:0 (8, 5, 9)
Gaćina - Habesohn 3:0 (6, 9, 9)
Pucar - Levenko 3:0 (6, 6, 4)