Matches were played on football pitches in Umag and Novigrad from 31 January to 8 February. 8 teams from 6 countries (Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Hungary, Romania, Slovenia and Serbia) participated in the tournament and a total of 16 matches were played.
Football as a charity event
Besides the interesting football matches, Istria Winter Cup is unique for being a charity event. The tournament showed its generous side in the traditional charity match between the Istria Winter Cup team and the Humane Stars of Croatia ’03 team. Football fans have thus succeeded in gathering HRK 17 000 for the Centre for inclusion and support in the community (Centar za inkluziju i podršku u zajednici) from Buje.
Here’s what the Istria Winter Cup participants have to say about the Cup and its organisation.
Pitches have been well-prepared, Hotel Sol Garden Istria is phenomenal, and this has been an amazing experience for our players who are still quite young. Playing in a tournament with top football teams is a big challenge and I think that the Istria Winter Cup will be a great lesson for us.
Goran Markovič, Coach, ND Ilirija (Slovenia)
HŠK Zrinjski had 3 reasons to celebrate. Apart from winning the tournament, two of its players received recognition for their effort: Milan Muminović was chosen the best player in the tournament and Ratko Dujković the best goalkeeper.
We came to the Istria Winter Cup to play a few good matches before the season kicks off. The teams are really good – a great club such as Cluj, Novigrad which is quite strong, Borac… We won both matches and today we are playing against CFR Cluj and we hope that we’ll make it to finals.
I would especially like to thank the staff of the Maestral Hotel in Novigrad, in which we are staying, because everything is perfect!
Damir Kljajo, HŠK Zrinjski (Bosnia and Herzegovina)
I was immediately thrilled by the amenities in Umag in Novigrad. The towns offer plenty of accommodation facilities and quality football pitches and we are also pleased with the catering services, as well as our opponents in the tournament. Istria Winter Cup is a tournament of an established tradition and we hope that more clubs will recognize its potential in the years to come.
Draško Ilić, President of FK Borac Banja Luka (Bosnia and Herzegovina)
Umag and Novigrad have been well-known sports destinations for years. I can see that the conditions for training and preparations are improving every year, there are more pitches and there is everything such top football teams might need. People here are genuine hosts, always doing their best – once you’ve come here, you’ll always come back.
Đani Laser, Sports Director, NK ZAVRČ (Slovenia)
The tournament is very interesting, the clubs are top-notch and we have nothing but praise about the accommodation and the pitches. We feel very good here and we look forward to the remaining tournament matches.
Eugen Trica, CFR Cluj (Romania)
Last year we won first place and the tournament was an excellent preparation for the championship kick-off in which we achieved the results we aimed at. The competition in the Istria Winter Cup is very strong this year and I think that, with such opponents, this will be an excellent, very useful opportunity to prepare for the upcoming season.
Robertio Bradić, President of NK Novigrad (Croatia)
This is my first time in Novigrad and I have to say that I’m truly surprised by the hotel, service, pitches and everything else.
Dejan Rusmir, NK Novi Pazar (Serbia)
Istria offers everything athletes might need this time of year. I think you’re on the right track of becoming a destination all clubs, not just those from the neighbouring countries, will visit in the future.
Milorad Husanović, Coach, NK Novi Pazar (Serbia)
HŠK Zrinjski from Bosnia and Herzegovina wins the intense final match
Zrinjski won the match against the Slovenian Zavrč after a nerve-wracking penalty shootout, thus winning the title of the winner of the Istria Winter Cup 2015, bringing one of the better preparation tournaments in this part of Europe to an end.