Zlatko Dalic, the Croatia coach in constant demand for autographs and selfies from Vatreni supporters. The former defensive midfielder is enjoying his time being in charge of the Balkan side, as they prepare for their biggest ever challenge on Sunday.
He said: “We are still living our dreams, we are so close. Through my life and career, I went the hard way. I did not want to be just an average coach in Croatia. I had to start from the lowest club. Within a year in Asia, I became the best coach, and for three years, I was coach of Al Ain [in the United Arab Emirates], who are like Real [Madrid] in Europe. That was a tremendous experience for me. I coached two of the biggest clubs in Asia, so when Croatia’s call arrived, I did not hesitate.”
Dalic said: “”With this great result [of reaching the Final], we have definitely entered history as one of the smallest countries ever in the World Cup finals. When we look at the conditions in which we work, we are a world wonder and phenomenon. We do not have the appropriate environment with big teams [in Croatia], but we have great players, who have brought us such joy. This is a planetary success.”
Dalic compared Croatia’s run in Russia to that of Greece at UEFA EURO 2004, saying: “I see the connection between Croatia now and Greece in 2004, although they are two different styles of football. No one believed that they could be the [European] champions, but they were compact and had great teamwork.”
He said: “There are two top teams in the World Cup Final. This will be our biggest game and our toughest opponent, for sure. France are very dangerous on the counter-attack. We had a tough journey to the Final, but there are no excuses, we are ready for the last game of the tournament.”
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