In 1998 France knocked Croatia out of the World Cup in the semi-final, 20 years later the two nations will meet again, this time in the final.
Croatia’s coach back in 1998, Miroslav ‘Ciro’ Blazevic, and current coach Zlatko Dalic have a strong relationship that goes back a long way.
Dalic was Blazevic’s right-hand man in the early 200o’s at Croatian first division club Varteks from Varazdin. The two are good friends with Dalic calling Blazevic during this World Cup to get some advice.
“I am in contact with Ciro, I want him to come (for the final), I want them all (France 98′ team) to come,” Dalic told Nova TV, before adding.
“My heart is as big as Moscow. God willing, we will bring the cup back to Croatia. We are ready, we have the quality, support also in Croatia and all over the world.”
The Croatian Football Federation issued a press release where they announced that they have invited the 1998 team to Sunday’s final.
Dalic says that the players’ mental strength and character over the last two weeks have helped him get through all the drama.
“France has great players, we respect them, but we also respect ourselves and we know we are strong, and we know we can be champions. My players push me, they are mentally stronger than me. Rakitic had a temperature the night before this match, Suba, Lovren and Vrsaljko had problems, but nobody wanted to come off. They all looked at me when I was talking – “Not me, I can continue”,” Dalic concluded.
Croatia meets France in the final of the World Cup at 5 pm CET on Sunday 15 July and a number of the 1998 side will be there already. Davor Suker is the HNS president and is in Russia as well as Drazen Ladic and Marjan Mrmic who are Dalic’s assistants.
Slaven Bilic was there last night with ITV, whilst Igor Stimac and Dario Simic were also in the stands and Zvonimir Boban is at the tournament in his FIFA role.