Croatia head coach Niko Kovač had nothing but praise for his players after their 3-1 loss to Brazil, and believes that his side can reach the World Cup second round, providing it repeats last nights performance in Sao Paulo…
“First of all, I would like to congratulate Brazil. I believe that my team has played an excellent match, and I am proud of this Croatian team. If we repeat this performance, we can reach the second round. Brazil was also excellent, but Croatia deserved a draw, it showed its true face”, said Kovač.
“We have played tactically clever, without haste, searching for opportunities in counterattacks. We were dangerous, yet it is difficult to play against Brazil. Croatia did not come to defend, I have selected the team to show everyone we want to attack as well and play without a defensive midfielder. I have believed that Modrić and Rakitić can tip the balance to our side”, he continued.
Brazil’s second goal, scored from the penalty spot after a dubious decision, left many feeling that Croatia were robbed.
“I did not see that as a penalty, and if someone did, raise your hand. In this way, there will be a hundred penalties at the World Cup. That was not a penalty and it never will be, it was a ridiculous decision. Brazil and Croatia played an extraordinary match, and the referee was not at the highest level”.
Croatian players were left ruing what could have been, with defender Vedran Ćorluka calling the decision ’embarrassing’, and Dejan Lovren, the man who Japanese referee Yuichi Nishimura accused of bringing down Brazil’s Fred, saying that they may as well give the World Cup now to Brazil.
“This is football, the rules apply to both teams. I want respect for both teams, and my lads have spent two years trying to get to the World Cup, having practice sessions and working hard, only to experience this. It is sad, imagine how they feel. Brazil needs no help, they have enough quality”, concluded head coach Kovač. (Drago Sopta / HNS)