Mandzukic says eager to face Cameroon

Brasilia: Croatia star striker Mario Mandzukic is eager to face Cameroon on Wednesday after he had to miss the World Cup opener against Brazil through suspension, local media reported.

"It is every player`s dream to play at a world tournament. I`m eager to play, eager to prove myself together with my team," he said.

"I hope that my first appearance at a World Cup will be marked with a positive outcome," Mandzukic told reporters, quoted by state-run HINA news agency.

The 28-year-old is a key player in the Croatia team at the World Cup.

He missed the June 12 opening match against Brazil, that Croatia lost 3-1, because of a red card in a match against Iceland in November.

Mandzukic, who recently announced he was leaving his German side Bayern Munich, admitted he was "waiting for the day to play again".

"We came to the World Cup to win, and we have to win against both Cameroon and Mexico. I`m positive and believe that we can make the first step."

"I was training very hard and this is maybe one of the most important matches. We are ready," he stressed.

Coach Niko Kovac echoed Mandzukic`s optimism and stressed that he was relying mostly on him for a victory.

"No need to waste words on his (Mandzukic`s) ability. Every coach should be happy to have him in the team. I know that Mandzukic will pull for a win," Kovac said.

On Wednesday, large photos of Mandzukic were also on the main Croatian newspaper front-pages with headlines reading `Now or Never`.

For Croatia and Cameron, having both lost their opening matches, a victory is crucial in staying alive in a tough Group A including Brazil and Mexico.

The match kicks off at 2200 GMT. Croatia play against Mexico on Monday.

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