Doha, 20 January 2021 - Before the match, Croatia and Qatar were already through to the main round, but both sides were both eager to claim the win and add another two important points on their way to the next stage. While Qatar brought in line player Youssef Ali, Croatia coach Lino Cervar made a goalkeeper change, as Marin Sego came in for Mate Sunjic.
The European runners-up got off to the better start and took a 3:1 lead, due to in part goalkeeper Ivan Pesic, who stopped three attempts from Qatar’s top scorer Frankis Marzo. A solid Croatian defensive line was the key for easy fast break goals to keep the lead. But the Asian Champions slowly closed the gap and eventually levelled at 10:10 with a rocket shot from Marzo with five minutes left in the first half.
Apart from levelling several times, Qatar could not manage to take the lead and the one factor preventing them from it was goalkeeper Marin Sego, who made an impact in the last ten minutes of the first half, stopping three penalty shots in a row.
The Balkan side increased the lead up to three-goals after the break, but within a minute, Qatar was back at 18:19. A two-minute suspension for Domagoj Duvnjak was a chance for Qatar to close the gap but again, Sego saved another penalty shot, finishing with a 100 percent save rate from the seven-metre line.
Although Croatia kept Qatar at bay, they never got it out of reach and at 23:22, Cervar was calling for a time-out. A spin shot from left wing Manuel Strlek through the goalkeeper’s legs and another fast break goal provided the lead for good at 26:23 as only Allaedine Berrached scored within the last five minutes of the match.
“It was a really good game for us. We played a good defense, changing between 5:1 and 6:0. We tried to discomfort the attack of Qatar and Sego in the goal was amazing, especially in the second half when we needed him, he saved the balls. When you receive 24 goals, it’s a bit easier to take the win. We showed great team spirit today and I think we deserved the two points,” said right wing Ivan Cupic.