Friday, 25 May 2018
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Croatia 'living a dream', says coach

Croatia's Sanja Popovic celebrates the victory over World No.6 Cuba
Croatia coach Miroslav Aksentijevic:

I want to congratulate Cuba – they have great players and a very young team. Tonight, we had a chance to beat them and I'm very proud of my girls. There's a lot of hard work behind this in our training camp and in the three seasons I've been in charge. This is our reward and I hope from this we can make a big step in the first round and stay in Japan as long as possible.

(What does it mean for your players?) To be honest, we're living our dream. We played against one of the biggest teams in the world with a lot of great players. We were outsiders for sure. Maybe Cuba didn't start off 100 percent, but we kept a high level and they couldn't come back in the match. My players are very happy. We still have a lot of hard work to do, but we have a chance to be in the best company and we will give it our best.

I want to say that we don't only play with six players; we play our matches with 10 or 11 players. But the most important thing is we had good team spirit and if we can stay like this, we can play tomorrow and all our matches at a high level of performance.

Croatia captain Maja Poljak

First, I'd like to congratulate Cuba for giving us a hard job today. We played a very good match. They are a young and powerful team and have a big future, but we showed great fighting spirit and I'm very happy that my team won.

Cuba coach Juan Gala Rodriguez

I want to congratulate Croatia, but I think the errors we made were decisive in the outcome of the match. In key moments, my players didn't respond as we wanted. The first match is always a bit of a nightmare for us and we can't seem to overcome that. But today's match is now history and we need to think about tomorrow.

Cuba captain Yusidey Silie:

We lost today because we made too many errors – unforced errors. I want to congratulate Croatia, but I think they didn't play that great either.

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