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Croatia settle straight into Warka

Published: Wednesday 6 June 2012, 17.30CET
One unlucky bird aside, Croatia's arrival in the Polish town of Warka went down a storm. Elvir Islamović reports on their reception and how they have no intention of an early exit.
by Elvir Islamović
from Warka
 
Published: Wednesday 6 June 2012, 17.30CET

Croatia settle straight into Warka

One unlucky bird aside, Croatia's arrival in the Polish town of Warka went down a storm. Elvir Islamović reports on their reception and how they have no intention of an early exit.

It was a busy day yesterday for all Warka citizens. The brass band was preparing popular songs for their concert, while young football players were left wracked with nerves while they waited to play against the likes of Modrić, Eduardo, Srna and other Croatia stars.

Hotel staff, meanwhile, were practising their final moves for the ceremony to welcome the Croatian team. Throngs of people were also hurrying that morning to grab a valuable ticket to Croatia's afternoon training session.

All day after the Croatian team arrived I was looking at local people's faces, especially the faces of local children delighted to see such iconic footballers. The Croatian team's hotel is normally a peaceful place just outside the city of Warka, perfect for rest and relaxation. Yesterday, though, hundreds of people descended on the area for their first training session on Polish soil. A live marching band, local fans with Croatian jerseys and shirts, journalists and TV crews were all present.

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Luka Modrić is always a big draw

I spotted one bird nesting among the electrical installations beside the pitch, but it had little chance of rest. Besides that one bird, however, everyone else was in an upbeat mood. The local fans were cheering and kids were playing with the Croatian players; it was an idyllic scene.

One young boy in particular caught my eye. He was playing with Luka Modrić and at the end of the session he managed to get his shirt autographed – cue the biggest smile I've ever seen. That is the beauty of football.

We all hope it can stay this way in Warka for as long as possible. Am I too optimistic? Not according to the Croatian Football Federation (HNS), who have booked their hotel for a month. "We have a big plans and we are planning to stay here until 1 July," said midfielder Tomislav Dujmović.

Last updated: 28/06/12 14.50CET

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