Saskatchewan

'The sermon will be very short': Croatian priest in Regina preparing for World Cup final Sunday

People around the world, including Saskatchewan, are preparing for Sunday's World Cup final.

Croatia is making its first appearance in a World Cup final against heavy favourite France

Vladimir Simunovic moved to Canada six years ago from Croatia, and was among the football fans watching the 2018 World Cup final in Regina on Sunday. (CBC)

People around the world are preparing for a sporting event four years in the making — the 2018 World Cup final — and Saskatchewan is no different.

Croatia defeated England Wednesday in a semi-final match and will make its first-ever appearance in the World Cup final against France Sunday.

Despite France being a heavy favourite, fans of Croatia are confident their team can hold its own.

Croatian-born Vladimir Simunovic is one of those fans. He's also a priest at Regina's St. Basil's Ukrainian Catholic Church.

Simunovic is such a dedicated fan, he might alter his Sunday sermon to accommodate the game.  

"I can tell you the sermon will be very short," Simunovic said with a laugh.

"First half I'll be able to watch, and for the second I'm not sure," he said.

Mario Mandzukic scored the winning goal in the 109th minute on Wednesday to send Croatia to its first-ever World Cup final. (Ryan Pierse/Getty Images)

Simunovic said he experienced an "explosion of emotion" when Croatia punched their ticket to the final.

"It's an achievement that everybody wanted to see but it was hard to believe because the competition is really really tough," he said.

Simunovic said soccer is the top sport in Croatia.

"Croatia is a small European country of four million inhabitants, and we say that we have four million coaches as well," he said. 

He anticipates businesses will close early in Croatia for the game.

As for predictions, Simunovic believes Croatia can win but also recognizes France as a talented team. 

"Anything can happen," he said. "Let's all cheer for Croatia."

With files from CBC Radio's Afternoon Edition