Sunday, 5 February, 2023

Croatia ‘want more’ on return to semifinals

Croatia ‘want more’ on return to semifinals
Croatia players take part in a training session in Doha on Sunday. –AFP PHOTO

Croatia coach Zlatko Dalic said the 2018 World Cup runners-up hope Tuesday's semi-final against Argentina in Qatar will be remembered as the "greatest game" in the country's history.

With a population of just four million people, Croatia have again defied the odds and stand just 90 minutes from a return trip to the final.

"At back-to-back World Cups to be among the four best national teams, that's an extraordinary success for Croatia," said Dalic, who saw his side beaten 4-2 by France in the final four years ago.

"However, we want more," he added. "I'm optimistic and have full confidence in my players. They've shown their great quality and strength of character, and deserve to be in the final."

As in Russia in 2018, Croatia have required two penalty shootouts to reach the last four -- beating Japan and then a heavily fancied Brazil.

Croatia haven't won a knockout game in normal time at a major tournament since coming third at the 1998 World Cup.

"It was quite exhausting with extra time in two matches, but we're in the semi-finals of the World Cup and we're not even discussing exhaustion," said Dalic.

Croatia swept Argentina aside 3-0 in the group stage at the last World Cup, but Dalic says that will have no influence with the stakes much higher for the match at Lusail Stadium.

"That was a group stage match back then and it wasn't decisive. That match has nothing to do with tomorrow's," he said.

"We're now in the semi-finals and playing against one of the best teams in the world and in history."