The 12th season of the Regional League, the competition that reunited the clubs from the former Yugoslavia, has started this evening. In the first match of Day 1, Jadran Herceg Novi defeated Jadran Split 11:9. The rest of the games will be played on 20 and 21 September.
A total of ten teams will take part in the A1 League, while 12 clubs will compete in the A2 League.
The clubs which will participate in the A1 League are Mladost, Jug, Jadran Split, Mornar (all Croatia), Sabac, Crvena Zvezda, Partizan (Serbia), Jadran Herceg Novi, Primorac, Budva (Montenegro).
Just like it was in the previous seasons, the outstanding favourites are Jug, Jadran Herceg Novi and current champion Mladost. These three clubs have the wild cards for the Main Round of the Champions League.
Last season, Mladost won the Regional League for the first time in the club’s history. That was Mladost’s first trophy after 7 years. Four players left the club the team summer, but the Zagreb-based side brought a few excellent reinforcements. Croatia centre-forward Josip Vrlic came from Barceloneta. Than, Luka Bukic returned from Pro Recco. Mladost’s additions are also the member of the Team USA Alex Bowen and Aljosa Kunac. There is no doubt, the club has high ambitions in all competitions.
There were not a lot of departures and arrivals in Jug, which won 4 editions of the Regional League. The Croatian champion “exchanged” players with Olympiacos. Maro Jokovic went to Pireaus, while Paulo Obradovic returned to Dubrovnik. Jug, one of the best European clubs at the moment, can achieve a lot, not just in the Regional League, but in the Champions League, too.
The biggest change in Jadran Herceg Novi is a new coach. Vladimir Gojkovic temporarily left the club, until the 2020 Olympic Games, because he must dedicate himself to a job in the Water Polo Federation of Montenegro. He is also Montenegro head coach, and his team still has not qualified for the Games in Tokyo. Gojkovic will be replaced by Petar Radanovic, Jadran’s assistant coach. A new name in the team is Marino Cagalj. Most of the main players stayed in the club, so Jadran has a strong team which is seeking its 3rd trophy of the champion of the Regional League.
Jadran Split is returning in the circle of best Croatian clubs step-by-step. The former European champion isn’t a favourite for the title, but it could reach the Final Four.
The best Serbian clubs Sabac and Crvena Zvezda started the season with new coaches. A young Nemanja Andric replaced Miodrag Mirovic, who led Sabac towards the “double crown” (Serbian championship and Cup of Serbia), while a legendary Igor Milanovic came to Crvena Zvezda. Milanovic’s predecessor Aleksandar Filipovic is an assistant coach in this season. Despite there were a lot of departures from both clubs, Sabac and Crvena Zvezda have composed pretty solid squads. Both clubs finished their European campaigns last weekend, in the Champions League Qualification Round 2, but they have objective chances to enter the battle for the Final Four.
Budva, a returnee to the A1 League, might surprise, while young teams of Primorac, Mornar and Partizan aren’t contenders for the title and for a spot at the Final Four. But, everything is possible.
A1 Regional League arrivals and departures
Mladost (1st in season 2018/19)
Arrivals: Josip Vrlic (Barceloneta), Alex Bowen (Miskolc), Luka Bukic (Pro Recco), Aljosa Kunac (Jadran St)
Departures: Ivan Buljubasic (Olympiacos), Marino Cagalj (Jadran HN), Antonio Petkovic (Noisy), Luka Sucic (Jadran St), Branimir Herceg (Solaris)
Jug (2nd in season 2018/19)
Arrivals: Paulo Obradovic (Olympiacos)
Departures: Maro Jokovic (Olympiacos)
Jadran Herceg Novi (3rd in season 2018/19)
Arrivals: Marino Cagalj (Mladost)
Departures: Slaven Kandic (Pays d’Aix Natation), Dragan Draskovic (Palermo)
Jadran Split (4th in the season 2018/19)
Arrivals: Rino Buric (Mornar), Marin Vrdoljak (Mornar), Luka Sucic (Mladost), Antonio Duzevic (Mornar), Marin Borovcic-Kurir (OVK POSK)
Departures: Aljosa Kunac (Mladost), Zeljko Kovacic (Solaris), Boris Popovic (Galeb), Nikola Milardovic (Budva), Mario Podrug (Galeb)
Mornar (5th in the season 2018/19)
Arrivals: Ferdinard Josip Buselic (Jadran S), Karlo Krekovic (Solaris).
Departures: Rino Buric (Jadran S), Marin Vrdoljak (Jadran S), Antonio Duzevic (Jadran S).
Sabac (6th in the season 2018/19)
Arrivals: Nemanja Matkovic (Tourcoing, Lille), Dusan Vasic (Crvena zvezda), Radoslav Filipovic, Marko Radulovic (Vojvodina), Chancellor Ramirez (Apollon Smyrnis), Luis Ricardo Gomes da Silva (BRF Brazil)
Departures: , Gojko Pijetlovic (Oradea), Nebojsa Toholj (Radnicki), Nikola Lukic, Marko Jankovic (C. Zvezda), Marko Bolovic (Vojvodina), Aleksa Petrovski
Crvena Zvezda (7th in the season 2018/19)
Arrivals: Nikola Radjen (Dynamo Moscow), Danilo Adzic, Petar Kasum (both Partizan), Marko Jankovic (Sabac), Milos Vukicevic (Catania), Vladimir Ivanov (Dynamo Moscow), Ivan Gusarov (Radnicki)
Departures: Aleksandro Kralj, Stefan Todorovski (Radnicki), Milos Maksimovic, Nikola Bursac, Dusan Vasic (Sabac), Luka Perkovic, Andria Bitadze, Djordje Ljubenovic, Boris Popovic.
Primorac (8th in the season 2018/19)
Arrivals: Ugljesa Vukasovic , Aleksandro Kralj (Crvena Zvezda)
Departures: Antonio Petrovic (retired), Dimitrije Krijestorac (Miskolc), Goran Grgurevic (Lille), Marko Ivankovic (Montpellier), Visnakov (Russia), Shubladze (Dinamo Tbilisi), Damir Crepulja (Dinamo Tbilisi), Nikola Pavlicevic (Netherlands)
Partizan (9th in the season 2018/19)
Arrivals: Arsenije Mitrovic (Radicki)
Departures: Petar Kasum, Danilo Adzic (Crvena Zvezda), Petar Tomic (Novi Beograd 011), Brankovic (Radnicki)
Budva (1st in the 2018/19 A2 league)
Arrivals: Dejan Lazovic (BPM Sport Management), Filip Klikovac (Italian Serie A2), Nikola Milardovic (Jadran St), Blagoje Ivovic, Stefan Kovacevic (Noisy), Mandic (Cattaro)
Regional League 2018/19, Day 1, schedule
Jadran S – Jadran HN 9:11 (3:4, 1:3, 2:0, 3:4)
Jadran Split:Zovic 3, Krapic 2, Setka 2, Pejkovic 1, Delic 1.
Jadran Herceg Novi: Averka 3, Dj. Radovic 2, M. Petkovic 2, Popadic 1, Mijuskovic 1, Spajic 1, Brkic 1.
Jug CO (CRO) – Budva (MNE)
Partizan (SRB) – Crvena Zvezda (SRB)
HAVK Mladost (CRO) – Mornar BS (CRO)
Sabac (SRB) – Primorac (MNE)
Galeb MR (CRO) – Radnicki(SRB)
Nais (SRB) – Primorje EB (CRO)
Vojvodina (SRB) – Zemun Bosal (SRB)
Solaris (CRO) – Cattaro (MNE)
OVK POSK (CRO) – AVK Triglav (SLO)
Zadar 1952 (CRO) – Medvescak (CRO)
2009/10 Jadran HN
2010/11 Jadran HN
2011/12 Pro Recco
The league was established in 2008 as the Adriatic Water Polo League and in the first season, it consisted of clubs from Croatia, Montenegro and Slovenia. In the 2011/12 season, the Italian water polo club Pro Recco played the league for their first (and also the last) time. The Italian side became champions in its only appearance in this competition. The Serbian clubs joined the league in the 2014/15 season.