Croatia confident of getting through to last-16 of World Cup
Zagreb: People in Croatia will go to work Monday but their minds will be in Recife, Brazil, where their beloved, "Fiery Squad" will be taking on Mexico for a place in the last-16 of the FIFA World Cup.
The situation for Niko Kovac` s team is the same as it was before the match against Cameroon, very clear and simple -- win will get Croatia through and any other result would send them home, reports Xinhua.
"It` s like we play the final against Mexico. We feel great after the win against Cameroon and the atmosphere is ideal. Against Mexico we will play like we did in the previous for all the people that came all the way to Brazil to support us and for all those that are doing that in our homeland.
"I can` t say that we are favourites against Mexico but I would say we have 50 percent chance to win", said Croatian captain Darijo Srna.
"Many times I have returned home from big tournaments after the first round when we were close to advancing. I am tired of that. I am tired of playing good but still losing. I believe it` s time to change that. I believe that we can beat Mexico and go through to the knockout rounds", goalkeeper Stipe Pletikosa said.
Mexico beat Croatia 12 years ago at the World Cup when Mirko Jozic was the national coach.
He put a young Pletikosa between the posts and introduced Ivica Olic as a young, promising forward.
Both of them Monday will carry the hopes of a nation that they can do better than they did 12 years ago when losing to Ecuador in the last group match meant that they had to pack their bags.
"We will try to dictate the rhythm of the match from the first minute because it would be easier to play if we score early. But, that doesn` t mean we will mindlessly attack. We will be patient", Croatian coach said.
To have a chance of progressing further Croatia will have to score. Mexican goalkeeper Ochoa kept a clean sheet against Brazil with some brilliant saves and he will try to do the same against Croatia.
"Yes, we saw what he is capable of and he deserved all the credit. But, our forwards are in good form. They scored five times and had chances to score even more goals. That statistic shows that we have attacking style of play and I am confident that we will be endanger Mexican goalkeeper", Kovac said.
Kovac believes that he has done everything he could to prepare his players. Players believe that they are good enough to beat Mexico. Croatian supporters believe that the time is right for this generation to shine on football` s biggest stage. It feels like they are all singing together: "We` re all faithful, we all believe".