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National Teams > Men > A

Croatia to begin the qualifying campaign

Kovač: "Now is the
time to change
something and give
the young lads a
chance"

20.08.2014.
Kovač: "Now is the time to change something and give the young lads a chance"
photo by: Drago Sopta
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Croatia head coach Niko Kovač presented the list of candidates for the international friendly against Cyprus and the qualifying match against Malta.

Niko Kovač's men will play Cyprus in Pula on 4 September, and then kick off their EURO 2016 qualifying campaign with Malta in Zagreb on 9 September. In Dugopolje, Croatia head coach held a press conference and explained his decisions.

"There are plenty of new faces, young lads, and now is the time to change something and give them a chance. Why not? In a couple of years, they can become top players and during this preparation phase we will try to see how things might work in the future".

In the EURO 2016 qualifying round, Croatia will face Malta, Azerbaijan, Bulgaria, Norway and Italy.

"No qualifying round is easy. Italy went to Brazil, Bulgaria nearly missed the World Cup, Norway is a tough team once again, and Azerbaijan is always tricky. However, our goal is to secure EURO 2016 berth and I feel very optimistic. I hope that we have prepared a good combination of experience and youth. Italy and Croatia are the favourites, but it is too early to think about Italy. The beginning against Malta is crucial, we need to win in order to relieve the pressure", said Kovač.

Croatia was disappointed to exit the World Cup in the group phase, but will come out even stronger, said the head coach:

"We had both good and bad moments in Brazil. Moreover, we have certainly learned something. Losing to Mexico will not discourage us. It will give us more strength and more motivation".

List of candidates:

Goalkeepers: Danijel Subašić (Monaco), Lovre Kalinić (Hajduk), Ivan Vargić (Rijeka)

Defenders: Darijo Srna (Shakhtar), Vedran Ćorluka (Lokomotiv Moscow), Ivan Strinić (Dnipro), Dejan Lovren (Liverpool), Domagoj Vida (Dynamo Kiev), Šime Vrsaljko (Sassuolo), Hrvoje Milić (Rostov), Tin Jedvaj (Bayer Leverkusen)

Midfielders: Luka Modrić (Real Madrid), Ivan Rakitić (Barcelona), Danijel Pranjić (Panathinaikos), Mateo Kovačić (Inter), Alen Halilović (Barcelona B), Marcelo Brozović (Dinamo), Mario Pašalić (Elche)

Strikers: Ivica Olić (Wolfsburg), Mario Mandžukić (Atletico Madrid), Nikica Jelavić (Hull City), Anas Sharbini (Rijeka), Duje Čop (Dinamo), Andrej Kramarić (Rijeka), Marko Pjaca (Dinamo)

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Standings

1.Croatia6+1314
2.Italy6+412
3.Norway5-19
4.Bulgaria5-15
5.Azerbaijan5-73
6.Malta5-81