Croatia coach, Zlatko Dalic has tagged the Super Eagles as the most dangerous team in the group D match up of the FIFA World Cup tournament starting in Russia next month.
Consequently, Dalic stated that his preparations are geared towards winning the match against Nigeria billed for June 16 to guarantee his team’s advance to the next stage.
“The match against Nigeria will be key to our group. We are playing against an African side, they have a German coach that has changed their style of play and mentality. He has introduced many young players who are hungry and ambitious. This is going to be the toughest game for us,” said Dalic
“For me the match against Argentina is going to be easiest match in the group. Though they are one of the favourites to win the World Cup, they have Lionel Messi, but it is easy to play against a team you already know,” added the coach.
He has slashed his provisional World Cup squad to 24 players from 32 and will axe one more player by the June 4 deadline for next month’s tournament in Russia.
There were no real surprises with household names such as Luka Modric, Ivan Rakitic, Mario Mandzukic and Ivan Perisic expected to carry Croatia’s main hopes of reaching the knockout stages.
“We need two quality players in each position and I see our versatile striker Mandzukic leading the line because that’s his natural position,” Dalic told a news conference.
“I can’t make everyone happy but the World Cup is not the time or place for sweeping changes. I have decided to rely on tried and tested stalwarts and a bit of fresh blood.”
Croatia will play friendlies against Brazil on June 3 at Anfield and Senegal on home spoil in Osijek on June 8.