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Croatian Knights hoping to bring 9-a-side Success to Full Field Footy

  • Monday, July 12 2010 @ 05:23 pm ACST
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The Croatian Knights have been an up-and-coming power of European footy in recent years, taking the silver on debut at the 9-a-side 2008 EU Cup in Hamburg, and then picking up the bronze at the 2009 event in front of a home crowd in Samobor, near the Croatian capital Zagreb.

This year sees the Knights step up to playing full-field footy for the first time, in the inaugural 16-a-side European Championships being held in Denmark and Sweden next month.

Croatian footy pioneer Kolja Koracak is managing the squad, which will consist of 20 players. "We selected from the pool of 32 players. At the end some got injured, some couldn't come because of work and other reasons, and so our list was easy to put together. We'll be taking 20 players to Sweden and Denmark, including 5 rookies." All three domestic clubs, the Zagreb Hawks, Agram Power and Velika Gorica Bombers, are represented in the national team.

Footy in Croatia has been helped along by the support of the AFL's Hawthorn Football Club, a fact reflected in the nation's first club being dubbed the Zagreb Hawks. The Hawthorn connection is also evident in Kolja's assessment of his team's stars, saying "Tomislav Cvetko is Buddy Franklin, Josip Kravar is Sam Mitchell, and Davor Deranja is Luke Hodge. 'nough said!"

At 44 years of age, Ante Loncar was set to be the squad's oldest member, but had to pull out. His 18 year old son Adam Loncar will be there however, being the youngest representative for the Knights in 2010. All squad members are Croatian citizens and grew up in Croatia, although Adam Loncar and Toni Grguric were born in Australia.

Koracak says the squad will be camping out in Denmark, with a lack of sponsors leaving a very tight travel budget. "The Croatian national team will sleep in tents in camp, because of lack of support from the country and beyond, even though this week we got so much press space after winning the tournament in Italy!"

With a reputation to uphold as a strong contender on the European stage, and a long history of Croatian champions in the AFL, the Knights will be eager to prove they can match it with all comers.

3Igor Svoboda17.04.1984   Zagreb Hawks
6Ante Kovacevic11.02.1982Agram Power
7Marko Belic28.10.1984Zagreb Hawks
8Ivan Kusen05.07.1986Velika Gorica Bombers
9Ivan MolnarAgram Power
11Tomislav Tonsetic02.08.1984Agram Power
13Josip Kravar09.10.1985Zagreb Hawks
17Kreso Franic27.12.1984Velika Gorica Bombers
21Luka Velican17.08.1984Zagreb Hawks
24Fran Tonkovic02.04.1987Zagreb Hawks
27Adam Loncar27.02.1992Agram Power
34Davor Deranja05.02.1986Velika Gorica Bombers
43Milijan Mamic06.08.1985Velika Gorica Bombers
51Kolja Koracak05.04.1974Zagreb Hawks
55Tomislav Cvetko19.12.1984Agram Power
88Zvonimir Klenovic22.04.1982Velika Gorica Bombers
32Toni Grguric16.06.1972Zagreb Hawks
2Matija Mamic31.05.1983Velika Gorica Bombers
14Matija Glavinic Pecotic14.03.1987Velika Gorica Bombers
10Luka Cudina22.02.1991Agram Power

Coach: Josip Kravar
Manager: Kolja Koracak