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National Teams > Men > A

The head coach speaks on the WCQ draw

Dalić: "A tough
group with opponents
we have a lot of
respect for"

Dalić: "A tough group with opponents we have a lot of respect for"
photo by: HNS
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Croatia head coach Zlatko Dalić gives his first impression of the draw for the European Qualifiers of the 2022 World Cup, which is to be held in Qatar.

Croatia was seeded into the top pot at the draw, and it was drawn into Group H – along with Slovakia, Russia, Slovenia, Cyprus, and Malta.

"As usual, the draw could have been easier and it could have been worse. However, Croatia was seeded in Pot 1 for a reason, and I believe that we needn’t shy away from our role as group favorites. Our goal is to place at the World Cup, and this is a group in which we can do that. The tough games that we’ve played during the past two years have prepared us well for what’s ahead,” said Croatia head coach Zlatko Dalić after the draw.

"We got Slovakia and Russia from Pot 2 and 3 – they’re teams that we’ve played against relatively recently, and they’ll be our toughest opponents in this qualifying cycle. The remaining matches won’t be easy either – we got some of the strongest teams from each pot. However, I want to reiterate that Croatia is the group favorite here, and that we intend to make good on that title,” added Dalić.

The Vatreni have both played Slovakia and Russia in the past two years:

"Slovakia is a good team, and their place at the EURO is well-earned. We played an excellent match in Trnava, but we must also remember that they took the lead in Rijeka and that they definitely showed their quality. They’ve played us twice recently and that experience is sure to be useful for them. Russia is a good team, as well – they made that clear at the World Cup, where they beat Spain. Slovenia is getting better and better, they’re making real advances under head coach Matjaž Kek – and he knows Croatian football through and through. I’m sure our neighbors will be especially motivated to show their quality. Of course, we shouldn’t underestimate Cyprus and Malta – they’re tough nuts to crack for a lot of teams, and they’re definitely not the kind of opponents that anyone can regard as easy opportunities to up their goal difference.”

Like other national teams, Croatia is looking ahead to a busy qualifying schedule, with triple headers in March and September:

"We’ve gotten used to this kind of pace during the past two months, and we noticed how tough it was, especially because it leaves so little time for training and preparations. We certainly won’t have a lot of room for mistakes. With the World Cup at stake, we have to go in strong from day one. I can only hope that we’ll all be healthy – if all of our players will be at our disposal, I’m sure we can show our strength and quality.”

"This is a demanding group, with tough opponents that we have a lot of respect for. But we want to go to Qatar and we want to defend our silver medal, and we’ll do everything in our power to make that possible,” concluded Dalić.


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