The AFL International Cup is nearly upon us. It has been a huge few months for the teams finalising their preparations for the two week tournament held in Melbourne. In the lead up to the tournament kicking off on Sunday 6th August we’ll be taking a look at the eight European teams making the journey and competing for the title of IC Champions. Next up in our tournament previews are IC newcomers, the Croatian Knights.
History of the Knights
The Croatian Knights were formed in 2006-2007 and have been a real dominant force in European footy since the get-go. They have a thriving national league as well as playing in the Central European league against teams from Austria, Italy and the Czech Republic.
They are the second most decorated team at the Euro Cup with two championships and 3 runners-up finishes. They’ve competed in two European Championships and were strong opponents in both of those full format tournaments.
Last IC and European Championships
This will be first International Cup for the Croatians and it has been a huge effort to get the side over to the competition. The mastermind of Croatian footy, Josip Kravar, has barely slept over the past few months working round the clock to make sure the Knights are in attendance. He and his team are going to give the competition a real shake-up.
The Croatians didn’t compete at last year’s European Championship but were competitors at the 2010 and 2013 tournaments. Both tournaments they finished 5th.
Round 1: vs China
Round 2: vs Indonesia
Round 3: vs Sri Lanka
Round 4: Semi-Finals
Round 5: Grand Finals
Player to Watch
Big Tomi is an icon of European football. He’s dominated European competitions for the best part of a decade with his powerful marking and goal kicking.
Standing at 1.88m and 90kg he’s going to be a hard man to match up on. Tomi recently travelled over to Australia to finalise his preparations and is training with the Norwood FC. He’ll be coming in hot for the tournament and should be supremely fit.
Best of luck for the defenders who get to the job to mark the big Croat. We wish you all the best.
IC17 Crystal Ball
The Knights are going to Australia to win. If they fall short they’ll be shattered. They’re well place to take out division two and will have the strength and power to out-muscle their opposition.
It would be an ideal division 2 final if they were to face-off with the German Eagles and this would be a real showdown.
Taking on China in round 1 will be a great way for them to debut at the International Cup. It’ll be a tough game and how they adapt to playing on the full ground after a number of years restricted to 9s will be interesting. Adapting quickly will be key as the Chinese won’t be taking this lightly and will still be on a high after the first ever AFL match on their shores earlier this year.
Their remaining pool games against Indonesia and Sri Lanka they’ll be expecting to be too strong and gives them the opportunity to place themselves at the top of their group.