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Dalić talks about debutants and Croatia’s decisive clash with Armenia

Croatian national team coach Zlatko Dalić faced the press a day after the 2-0 victory over Latvia in the Euro 2024 qualifier in Riga. 

Dalić started off by once commending the team’s approach to the game last night, HNS wrote.

“I want to congratulate the boys once again on the victory. Once again, we decide our fate; everything is in our hands,” said Dalić at the beginning, addressing the team’s health update.

“(Marko) Pjaca felt muscle pain during the last training before the match, so we didn’t want to risk anything. He will be under observation today. (Luka) Sučić and (Josip) Juranović will train; we have no other issues. However, we need to be smart about how we use each player. A significant, crucial match awaits us, and there must be no risks. Only 100% fit players will play. So, Pjaca, Juranović, and Sučić are questionable. We have also called up (Dino) Beljo later, who joined the training because we need another striker.”

About Kramarić’s condition…

“(Andrej) Kramarić, like (Luka) Ivanušec, needs minutes. Both played a very good game yesterday, but, of course, they lack playing time at the club. They will reach optimal form through matches, which is why we kept Kramarić in the game for a long time. I think Kramarić will be even better on Tuesday.”

On Marco Pašalić’s debut…

“He didn’t play long for us to speak specifically about his performance, but what he has shown in the past week in training—attitude, approach, desire, and quality—it’s all at the level we need. We need such players in the national team who, when they come, are happy and proud. When you see the desire in him to play for the Croatian national team, that’s something fantastic. He has both quality and, with (Martin) Baturina, whom I also congratulate on his debut, will be the future of the national team. 

Of course, they still have a lot to do to reach the quality of the representatives who have been with us for a long time. It’s nice that we are discovering new players who come to the national team with enthusiasm.”

About the match with Armenia…

“It would be easiest to say in advance that everything is over, but nothing is over. Seriousness must be at a maximum level, as it has been for most matches. In the first half-hour, the approach must be very good; these are tough matches where you think everything is solved in advance, but nothing is solved. 

Armenia is an opponent who lost the chance to qualify for the Euros but has the opportunity to come to Zagreb and enjoy football. That’s our obstacle; seriousness must be at its maximum from today’s training. We must not allow a mistake when we are in such a situation; Croatia must always be in major competitions, anything more than that we will consider a great success. We must not disappoint our fans and ourselves; we must not burn out in desire; intelligence must come first.”

About the Armenian team…

“In Armenia, we were a much better opponent, created a lot of chances, but won only 1-0. There is no relaxation; Armenia has nothing to lose; they come to Zagreb to enjoy football and play, but surely they won’t have the motivation as if they had a chance to qualify for the Euros. Therefore, the 1-1 result between Armenia and Wales is the best possible for us. Of course, there are many scenarios. If Wales does not beat Turkey, we are definitely going to the Euros. However, we must not look at that, just as yesterday we did not look at the result from Yerevan. 

We must only look at ourselves, win six points, and be in a position to decide for ourselves. I did not follow the duel between Armenia and Wales; I walked around the field, but again, that match is constantly buzzing in your head because you know you depend on it. I followed the minutes of injury time… The worst is when you depend on opponents, when you let things slip from your hands. Now the situation is different again, and we must take advantage of it.”

About qualifying for Euros…

“We have come to a situation where we always decide in the last round; that’s our tradition. When that happens, we tend to do well in major competitions. God willing, it will be the same now. It would be great to qualify and have seven months of peace until the Euros.”

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