Croatia's Fans Ecstatic Over Croatia's Soccer Success

Croatia's Fans Ecstatic Over Croatia's Soccer Success

Post by Barry S. Marjanovic » Mon, 13 Jul 1998 04:00:00

   July 12, 1998

   Croatians ecstatic after soccer triumph

   Good news finally after suffering through war years

   By Tanya Ho
   Toronto Star Staff Reporter

   As the rugged Croatian team beat the Netherlands 2-1 to seize third
   place during their first World Cup tournament, fellow Croatians beamed
   with pride for their young country.

   ``I was holding a picture of the *** Mary in front of me during the
   game. Each time they scored, I kissed her, then my wife, then my
   kids,'' said 55-year-old Blago Nizic.

   He intently watched the game at home before joining more than 400
   fellow revellers for a Mississauga street party, on Queen St. near
   Eglinton Ave.

   The third place win was more than a soccer match for Croatians, who
   gained their independence seven years ago.

   ``It was more of a recognition to the world of who we are. Even though
   we're a small nation, we have a heart. And we're willing to fight for
   what we believe in,'' said Tatjana Matasic, 29.

   As drums were beat, cymbals clashed and whistles blown, the crowd
   gathered with their arms around one another to sing the Croatian
   national anthem and other Croatian folk songs for more than an hour.

   Above the din, Sally Petrovic yelled her praise for the Croatian
   soccer team. ``We love our boys. The whole world is proud,'' she said.

   ``After dodging bullets in a war, here we are, now playing in the
   World Cup.''

   Davor Grabovac, 38, was in shock when Croatia crushed Germany 3-0 to
   make it to the semifinals. After yesterday's win, he was ecstatic.

   ``When we beat Germany, I said it was unbelievable. But today was
   doubly unbelievable,'' said Grabovac.

   ``With the war, we only had negative images. After today, I hope the
   images are as positive as this one,'' said Grabovac, pointing to the

   With a flag draped around her shoulders, Salvka Marasovic, 42,
   immediately phoned her 18-year-old son, Allan, who is on a two-month
   holiday in Croatia, after the game.

   ``He said, `Mom, I can't talk. We're all happy, we'll phone you
   later,' '' said Marasovic, saying he was heading out the door to the
   town of Split for a night of live music and dancing along the sea

   ``We're a young nation,'' said Grabovac.

   ``We're just full of pride today.''