Opening match against Nigeria decisive, says Croatia coach

Croatia Coach, Zlatko Dalic believes his team’s opening match against Nigeria, which he rates as the most important, will decide their fate at the Russia 2018 World Cup.

Speaking at a lecture to trainers regarding Croatia national team preparations for the 2018 World Cup, Dalic said the June 16 opener wil haver a hand in what would happen to the countries in the group.

The Croatians are in the so called Group of Death, which also contains two-time world champions, Argentina and dark horses, Iceland, who were the Cinderella team at the 2016 European Championship.

“That’s right, but we’re always ambitious, we’re going to be world champions and I respect that,’’ Dalic told Sportske Novosti.

“I am ambitious and want to do all the best and the best. The first goal must be to pass the group. The first match against Nigeria will be the decider. They are the key to everything.

“Then Argentina is where we can not look for much. They will be the easiest, because we have nothing to lose. The last is against Iceland, and it is possible that everything will be resolved.”

Croatia finished second behind Iceland in the 2018 World Cup qualifiers and qualified for their fifth World Cup after beating Greece in the playoffs.

Dalic plans to monitor the high profile pre-World Cup friendly between Nigeria and England at the National Stadium in London as his side will be in the United Kingdom for a friendly at that time.

Croatia will battle Brazil at Anfield, home ground of Liverpool, on June 3, a day after the Super Eagles clash with the Three Lions.
The friendly will assist Croatia prepare for their second Group D fixture against Argentina at Nizhny Novgorod Stadium, Nizhny Novgorod on June 21.

Dalic is expected to name Liverpool defender, Dejan Lovren on his roster for the friendly against the Brazilians.