Sport Sydney's Croatian club already planning for World Cup win

19:10  10 july  2018
19:10  10 july  2018 Source:

First World Cup final forces hand of Croatian faithful

  First World Cup final forces hand of Croatian faithful It's not every day your country makes the FIFA World Cup final, but for Robert Bobanovic and his son Karlo, the dream has well and truly arrived. "It doesn’t get any more special – sometimes I get lost for words," Robert said. "I’ll be sitting by myself on the couch thinking 'We’re in the final of the World Cup' and I get tears in my eyes."Croatia's success at this tournament took the decision out of first-generation Australian Robert's hands altogether: he was going home.

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Legendary club teams such as HNK Hajduk Split and GNK Dinamo Zagreb are supported by legions of fans and the passion is shared by those of Croatian heritage in Australia. World Cup Fans: Why Brazilians love this Sydney landmark.

General Manager Roye Estephan, centre, with pumped Croatian football fans at Sydney's King Tom Club.© Wolter Peeters General Manager Roye Estephan, centre, with pumped Croatian football fans at Sydney's King Tom Club. For anyone of Croatian descent, the King Tom Club will be the ground zero for football fans in Sydney.

On Thursday morning, Croatia takes on England in the World Cup semi-final, and the Edensor Park club is preparing for an inundation.

“Most eyes will be on the game while it’s playing, but prior to that we have the cevapi rolls out and serve a bit of barbecue. Music plays throughout, there’s a lot of singing on the outdoor terrace," said general manager Roye Estephan who is expecting more than 500 fans.

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• Win over Kosovo secures place at World Cup 2018 in Russia • Serbia seal qualification, Croatia confirm play-off place. In matches between already eliminated sides, Macedonia beat Liechtenstein 4-0, Finland drew 2-2 with Turkey and Austria won 1-0 in Moldova.

Regular patron Tomislav Orešković said that watching the games at the club is the next best thing to getting on a plane and watching them at home in Croatia.

"Even qualifying for the World Cup is exciting, as we're a small nation," he said.

Football is the most popular sport in Croatia, making it a major cultural connection for Croatian-Australians and an important social event for the King Tom Club.

Established in 1965, the club became officially licensed in 1973 and remains a key cultural hub in western Sydney.

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On Saturday afternoon (July 7), the World Cup 2018 bracket took shape for the semifinals, as two more teams advanced. France and Belgium had already punched their tickets after quarterfinals wins . That left two more games, with England taking on Sweden, and Russia battling Croatia .

World Cup 2018: 10 players to watch in Group D. 1/10 Giovani Lo Celso, Argentina. Age 22 Club Paris Saint-Germain Position Midfield. The referee, Sandro Ricci, made the correct call and Modric stroked the penalty home and punched the air in front of the massed ranks of Croatian supporters who had

There are also strong ties between Australia and Croatia when it comes to the game, with big names past and present from the Socceroos hailing from Croatian communities across Australia.

Current captain Mile Jedinak is of Croatian heritage, along with notable past players including Mark Viduka and Mark Bosnich, as well as Tony Popovic who now manages Perth Glory FC.

But you don’t need Croatian heritage to be welcome at King Tom Club, Mr Estephan saying “The club welcomes all sorts and all sports.”

Still, it would be wise for England supporters to leave the flags at home on Thursday morning.

“I’m sure [England supporters] will enjoy the festivities as well, but I wouldn’t recommend coming in in an England jersey,” Mr Estephan said, “They’d be very brave to show up to the club [in one].”

The match could go either way - Croatia and England have had five competitive games since 2004, Croatia winning two and losing three.

"Words cannot describe the party we will have if we do win," said Mr Orešković.

The Croatia v England semi-final game kicks off at 4am AEST Thursday 12 July, you can watch live on SBS or arrive at King Tom Club for a 3am open.

Third seed Cilic makes solid Wimbledon start .
Last year's runner-up Marin Cilic made a solid start to the Wimbledon championships with a clinical 6-1 6-4 6-4 victory over Japan's Yoshihito Nishioka on Monday. © REUTERS/Tony O'Brien Wimbledon Croatian Cilic, who lost last year's final to Roger Federer, underlined his credentials for another Grand Slam title bid to add to his U.S. Open triumph in 2014. © REUTERS/Tony O'Brien Wimbledon The lanky 29-year-old third seed served 21 aces and made four service breaks in a match lasting one hour and 45 minutes on Court Two against a young opponent coming back from major knee surgery.

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