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Canada-Croatia World Cup match brings fans together in northern Ontario

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While Canada fell to Croatia on Sunday at the World Cup, the game brought out the footie fans in northern Ontario for a chance to see Canadians compete on the big stage.

The historic moment in Canadian soccer came with ear-pinching roars and cheers at Timmins’ Croatian Hall.

Croatian-Canadians and other fans came together, sharing in some tense moments between the two teams that brought everyone to the edges of their seats.

The high of Canada’s early goal kept fans hopeful, even through Croatia’s first, second and third goals. But the fourth goal at the bottom of the second half sealed the game for the crowd.

No complaints from the Croatian community, though.

“Croatia’s a much more tactical team,” said Ivan Liposcak

“They’re much stronger. Canadians are … faster, speedier. But, in the end … skills prevailed.”

Crowds watching in Sudbury looked like they almost couldn’t stand the tension, as Canada fought to keep up its momentum after taking an early 1-0 lead.

“Scored a goal in 60, 80 seconds, amazing,” one patron said.

“But, ugh, we keep getting scored on. We just keep kicking the ball up, we can’t keep possession.”

Players for local soccer teams kept their eyes glued to the screen, waiting for yet another goal from Canada that never came.

Those rooting for Croatia kept the cheers coming. But they all said it’s really about bringing communities together and sharing their love of the game.

“The passion is crazy. Everybody gets so excited when they score or even just do anything good, it’s so exciting,” one person said.

Jasmine Chenier of the Croatian Hall said the rivalry is entirely good-natured.

“I think at the end of the day, we’re just happy to celebrate two nations,” Chenier said.

“All of our families came here to Schumacher, primarily, back in the day, and I think having everyone be together and celebrate Canada and Croatia is amazing.”

Croatia continues its World Cup quest Thursday against Belgium. Canada, meanwhile, hopes to make more soccer history when faces off against Morocco, also Thursday. 

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