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(E) Local Croatians World Cup crazy
By Nenad N. Bach | Published  06/13/2006 | Sports | Unrated
(E) Local Croatians World Cup crazy

Local Croatians World Cup crazy

Tue, June 13, 2006
Despite loss to powerhouse Brazil, fans happy with game


Losing by just one goal to the best soccer team in the world is a victory in itself, say some Calgary Croats after their home team took on Brazil in today's World Cup match.

Ivan Vukelic, president of the Croatian Canadian Cultural Centre at 3010 12 St. N.E. where the game was televised, was one of several hundred supporters to nervously take in the match, which ultimately saw Brazil go home with a 1-0 win.

"Honesty, I'm very happy with the score," Vukelic said.

"I wouldn't expect more than that."

"If we would tie I would be happy - we were playing against the best team in the world."

Watching the game with fellow Croatians, including his father visiting from his homeland, was not an option for Ivo Ceko.

"I'm actually working this afternoon," Ceko said midway through the match.

"I'll be late but my boss is English - he's going to understand that."

Using an analogy to Canada's national sport Ceko explained his passion for soccer.

"Over there soccer is like hockey is here," he said.

"It's soccer first and everything after that."

Six-year-old Maria Slisko has yet to be convinced.

"It's pretty boring and my father's yelling scares me a bit," she said while taking a breather from her overzealous parents to find a quiet corner at the cultural centre.

"I'm just trying to do my homework in my head."

Her mother, Ivanka, said the family has a bigger TV at home but chose to join fellow team Croatia fans so they could tap in to the team spirit.

The win sees Brazil open its attempt for a record sixth title.

Croatia, which is in just its second World Cup, reached the semifinals in 1998 and must now get points from Japan and Australia to revive its chances for this year.

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