Thursday, 28 April 2022

19-Year-Old Igor Matanović Chooses Croatia National Team Over Germany

April 28, 2022 - Great news from Germany - Igor Matanović, a forward for St. Pauli and the U-19 national team of Germany, has decided to play for Croatia!

He is a great talent, a 194 cm tall center forward who has all the characteristics of a modern player, and many experts are convinced that he has a brilliant career ahead of him. At the end of March, Matanović led the attack of the German U-19 team, scored a great goal in the Euro qualifying match against Italy, and recorded an assist against Belgium. However, he chose to play for Croatia a month later, reports Jutarnji List

Matanović agreed after a long and synchronized campaign led by Stipe Pletikosa - with the support of HNS President Marijan Kustić. The HNS technical director visited the young striker and his family for months. Matanović should already receive an invitation from the U-21 national team coach Igor Bišćan at the next national team gathering. Bišćan has long indicated that Matanović is a great talent he certainly sees among his chosen ones.

Matanović attracted a lot of attention for the first time two years ago when as a 17-year-old, he made his debut for the St. Pauli senior team against Werder (4:2), in which he immediately scored a goal and remained listed as the youngest scorer in the history of the club. Coach Timo Schultz announced him as a top attacking talent and a great future for the club. Although he only recently turned 19 (born on March 31, 2003), Matanović has already registered 33 games for St. Pauli. Unfortunately, he did not manage to score after that goal in his debut because he entered most of those games only in the final minutes, but few players play in the Bundesliga 2 at the age of 17 and 18. 

Matanović is technically a player of Eintracht, who bought him this summer for 500,000 euros but decided to loan him to St. Pauli for the next two seasons. 

“Igor is a very talented player who is technically talented and physically strong. He has great talent and great potential. It is important for his development to play as much as possible. We believe that the best decision is to leave him on loan because he will be able to help an ambitious second-division team. Still, he will also make important steps in his development this and next season," said Eintracht sports director Markus Krösche.

St. Pauli is fiercely fighting to enter the Bundesliga; it is fourth in the standings, only three points behind second place, and only one behind third. The second-place leads directly to the Bundesliga, and the third to the playoffs. As much as Timo Schultz praised Matanović, the role of the first center forward is played by the experienced Guido Burgstaller (32), who has already scored 18 championship goals this season with seven assists and is the third top scorer in the league. Bundesliga 2 is tough, and it is challenging for young players to break through.

Matanović's family arrived in Germany from Kotor Varos near Banja Luka. Interestingly, Mate Kovačić's parents are also from there. As a child, Igor played for St. Pauli, in which he passed all the selections. He showed great talent as a 16-year-old, who scored 19 goals in 27 games for the U-17 team, with seven assists.

Igor played for the Croatia U-14 side, then for the youth national teams of Germany from U-17 to U-19. He scored five goals in eight appearances for those selections. He would have had more if injuries hadn't plagued him.

"Members of my family were refugees during the war in Krapinske Toplice, so Croatia gave them refuge when it was most difficult for us, and it is not forgotten. However, I came to Germany in the late '80s, got a job, so both countries gave me a lot," explained Igor's father, Ranko Matanovic, two years ago.

The German Football Federation will not be happy that Igor Matanović chose Croatia, as Germany lacks center forwards. But in the end, love for Croatia prevailed.

For more, make sure to check out our dedicated travel section.

Wednesday, 27 April 2022

2022 World Cup Tickets: Last Day for Croatia Fans to Apply April 28

April 27, 2022 - Croatia fans can apply for 2022 World Cup tickets until Thursday, April 28 at 11:00 am!

After more than 800,000 World Cup tickets were sold in the first phase, the ticket sales period opened on the website https://www.fifa.com/tickets (with a random draw if there is a higher number of entries than the number of available tickets), which runs until Thursday, April 28 at 11:00 Central European Time, reports HNS.

Until that deadline, it is possible to apply for tickets for the Croatia national team matches. Croatia will play in Group F against Morocco (November 23), Canada (November 27), and Belgium (December 1). All national teams are entitled to eight percent of the stadium capacity in the group stage and approximately eight percent of the stadium capacity in the continuation of the competition (depending on the stadium configuration). For fan tickets, you can apply via the following link: www.fifa.com/fanticketingportals

In this sales period, there will be no difference whether applications are submitted on the first, last, or any other day in between as all tickets will be awarded after the end of the application period. In cases where the number of registered tickets exceeds the available contingent, tickets will be allocated through a random selection procedure.

All fans will be notified of the outcome of their applications no later than Tuesday, May 31, with the steps to follow if they can purchase tickets and the deadline by which they must pay for the tickets awarded.

The prices of individual tickets for the first phase of the competition are 250 (3rd category), 600 (2nd category), and 800 (1st category) Qatari riyals. Prices for the round of 16 are 385, 825 and 1,100 riyals, for the quarterfinals 825, 1,155 and 1,705, for the semifinals 1,430, 2,640 and 3,828, for the third-place match 825, 1,210 and 1,705, and for the final 2,420, 4,015 and 6,435 riyals.

All ticket information can be found at https://www.fifa.com/tickets, and ticket prices at the following link.

To follow the latest sports news in Croatia, follow TCN's dedicated page.

Tuesday, 12 April 2022

HNS and UEFA Meet in Nyon: Croatian Football House Project Presented to Čeferin

April 12, 2022 - HNS and UEFA met in Nyon, where they discussed several challenges in today's European football and presented the idea of creating a Croatian football house to President Aleksander Čeferin.

A high delegation of the Croatian Football Federation led by President Marijan Kustić visited Uefa President Aleksandar Čeferin and his closest associates, reports HNS

A meeting of the Uefa and HNS leaders was held on Monday at the headquarters of the umbrella European football federation in Nyon. UEFA President Aleksander Čeferin received a high-level HNS delegation, including President Kustić, Executive Director Tomislav Svetina, and Technical Director Stipe Pletikosa. In addition to Čeferin, the Croatian delegation was hosted by UEFA's head of football, Zvonimir Boban, and the director of national associations, Zoran Laković.

Lakovic_Pletikosa_Ceferin_Kustic_Svetina_Boban.jpeg

UEFA

"Thanks to President Čeferin and his closest associates, Mr. Boban and Mr. Laković, for a delightful reception and constructive and open conversation. We are proud that Croatian football is highly valued within the umbrella federation of European football and that HNS has such quality cooperation with Uefa. We are pleased that the President of Uefa is following an exciting competition in the Croatian First League. We discussed several challenges of today's European football, from the so-called Super League to the pandemic to the war in Ukraine. We presented the idea of creating a house of Croatian football in Veslačka to President Čeferin, and we are glad that Uefa will support this project if we succeed in its realization. We are honored with such a pleasant reception.

We look forward to returning the hospitality at the meeting of the Uefa Executive Committee, which will be held in September on Hvar," said HNS President Marijan Kustić.

"We were pleased to receive the HNS delegation, which is on and off the field is undoubtedly one of the most successful medium-sized federations in Europe. The Croatia national team's silver medal in Russia is the best inspiration to any small country that football dreams can come true if you show great togetherness with football talent and skill. Club football is also getting better, confirmed by the recently signed record contract for TV rights.

HNS has made great strides in recent years in building quality infrastructure across the country and will undoubtedly continue to have strong Uefa support in the same direction. This also applies to a potential camp or football house in Zagreb, which would be an excellent solution for HNS. I am looking forward to a new arrival in Croatia. Hvar is an ideal destination for the session of our Executive Board, and the HNS will undoubtedly be a great host," said Uefa president Aleksander Čeferin.

Lakovic_Boban.jpeg

UEFA

The HNS delegation presented the hosts with personalized jerseys of 2018 World Cup finalists with the #9 to Aleksandar Čeferin, #11 to Zoran Laković, and the well-known jersey #10 to Zvonimir Boban, the legendary Vatreni captain who led Croatia to the bronze medal at the 1998 World Cup in France. 

To follow the latest sports news in Croatia, follow TCN's dedicated page.

Wednesday, 6 April 2022

Meet NK Vis, the Most Isolated Football Club in Croatia

April 6, 2022 - Meet NK Vis, a football club and school fighting for the island's youth, allowing no distance to deprive its children of playing the sport. 

Football is played around the world thanks to its simplicity -  even in the most isolated places. Because Croatia is a small country, almost no one thinks of really isolated places, but if you sit on the ferry from Split to Vis, you'll need to kill two hundred minutes of sailing to one of the most beautiful Adriatic islands. When Brač and Hvar are behind you, in the distance rises Vis, surrounded by sea-strewn cliffs, and right there on the high seas, there is a small club of the same name that has been resisting its geographical integrity for decades, writes Aldo Franičević for RTL.hr.

Football on the island has a long tradition, and NK Vis celebrated its first days back in 1935, but Vis had to replace the football with rifles due to World War II. At the end of the great war, NK Naprijed Vis was launched, which existed for three and a half decades. Interestingly, HNK Hajduk even played a friendly match against the Vis club.

Unfortunately, its isolation and lack of money left Vis without a football club in 1979, leaving only the summer indoor league on the island. Soon the island was left without a football field. In those years, it seemed like football had lost the battle with distance after decades, but in 2006 a miracle happened.

At the end of 2006, Marinko Ivanišević-Mane, with a handful of football enthusiasts, started a children's football school on Vis and registered the Vis football club, thus renewing the continuity of the Vis football school after a 30-year hiatus. A few years later, Vis inhabitants first got a smaller football field, and in 2013, a large grass field was built with the help of the City. 

The following year, they registered a senior team that competed in the 2nd County League for several seasons. Unfortunately, the senior team was short-lived, but the football school has survived and is stronger than ever under its young and ambitious leader Mario Potočnjak.

Potočnjak spoke about the success of the Vis football school but also revealed the many problems young footballers encounter living on the island.

"Before I came to the club, several coaches changed. In the beginning, there was enthusiasm, and then there was a senior team, but as time went on, interest and opportunities decreased as far as the senior team was concerned. They competed for a while, but they stopped before I came. After that, they played in the county league, but now they don't play anymore. However, the football school is still alive, and I can say that it has grown nicely," said Mario Potočnjak, a 28-year-old coach from Pag who has been leading the development of the sport on Vis for five years.

Although the senior team shut down some time ago, the football school is growing and thriving thanks to the efforts of coaches and the encouragement and support of the local community.

"This year, we have 70-80 students. Of course, that number varies, especially in the winter. We also work with preschoolers, which are children aged 5-6. We currently have four categories - 10-12 preschoolers, some boys, some girls, about 15 younger beginners made up of first graders, there are about twenty beginners and a group of younger pioneers competing this year in the 3rd County League, and there are just over 20 of them. These are mostly children from Vis and Komiža, with a few children from the surrounding areas. It should be said that these 80 boys and girls are quite a number considering the total number of children in the island's primary schools," says Potočnjak, adding that clubs on the islands face problems that they can hardly imagine on the mainland.

The biggest problem is the poor connection with the mainland and other islands, which is always a full-day trip, even when traveling to nearby Hvar or Brač.

"The worst thing is that when we play on land, we have to take the ferry at 5:30 in the morning from Vis, which means the kids have to wake up around 4 am. This is especially problematic in the winter, and it is in the winter that we cannot rely on a catamaran that should leave at 7 am from Vis because you never know what the weather will be like and whether it will run. The trip by ferry to Split lasts for over two hours, and the matches are played at 9 am. This is a big problem when it comes to performance on the pitch, but the worst thing is that it is very hard for children and takes a long time," reveals the head of NK Vis. 

"It's still good when we play in Split because when we play in other places, it is even more problematic. For example, against clubs from Hvar, Brač. We are fighting a battle with the Federation and trying to explain to them that in this league of young pioneers, in which there are only seven clubs, we have the biggest problem when we go from island to island. Of the seven clubs, two are from Brač, Jelsa from Hvar, and we are from Vis. Those from the Federation think we are close to the islands, so it is easy. It is easier for us to go to Sinj or Imotski than from Vis to Brač and Hvar in winter," says Potočnjak and immediately explains. 

"When the weather is bad in winter, we would have to go from Vis to Split and then again an hour and a half back to Stari Grad on Hvar, arrange transportation to Jelsa and then repeat it all on the way back for an hour-long game. So when we have those games in the winter calendar, we somehow agree to move it to spring and then organize a speedboat or transport. In the end, it turns out ok, but it requires a lot of organization and money," Potočnjak added and gave an example from the 14-hour visit to NK Postira Sardi on Brač. 

"They couldn't play that game on Saturday because other categories were playing for them then, and we decided not to forfeit and change it for a later date. So on Sunday, we leave Vis a little later, around 7:30. But the problem is with the return. The first boat to Vis that we can get is only at 7 pm. We were in Split by 3 pm, but we could only go home four hours later. We came to Vis around 9:30 pm. In other words, we spent about 15 hours going from Vis to Brač just to play an hour-long game, and the children go to school on Monday. That's a huge amount of energy spent that way," Potočnjak adds. 

But as he says, giving up is not an option, and everyone is looking at how to make this positive. What saddens him is that his teams often fail to show their best performance when playing away, considering that they are exhausted even before they put on their jerseys and run on the pitch. 

"I noticed a big difference in the quality of performance. We have a small base, and the difference is felt when you play against clubs from Split, but regardless of when they come to visit us, the game will be at 2 pm because they come by ferry from Split at 11 am. The visiting teams on Vis don't have that problem. There is a big difference in the energy of our children when we play at home and away, so the result suffers a little, but in principle, the result is not primary," Potočnjak said.

He is happy that the local community is actively involved in the club. Namely, a lot is being invested in sports and youth in the City of Vis, and even apartments for young families are being built, which suggests that the club could soon get more new players.

"NK Vis is almost exclusively financed by the City of Vis, and this is where we encounter small disagreements because many of the boys and girls in the club are from Komiža. Unlike the City of Vis, they have not had an understanding for years, and we have little help from them. This year, they helped organize transportation for children from Komiža, but now new problems have arisen. In addition, we have income from membership fees that amount to a symbolic one hundred kuna per month," reveals Potočnjak and uses the opportunity to highlight the benefits the entire island has from the club. 

"The club's contribution to the community is great because, unfortunately, there is no other sports organization on the island in which children can join. There have been some attempts at basketball and the like, but it has not come to life. There is bowling and bocce in Komiža, but without belittling anyone and any sport, it cannot be compared to football. Practically, this is the only thing we have to offer children from systematic activities," claims Potočnjak.

So, what ambitions do the club and the city have in the future? 

"There's no plan to re-establish the senior team at the moment. Some guys are more ambitious and would play, but it dies quickly, and the costs and fines are enormous. If the boys don't get together or can't go to the game, the Federation issues fines, and debts are still dragging on from when the senior team existed, so it is better to focus all energy and strength on youth," concluded Mario Potočnjak.

He added that they are all focused on the 14th tournament for Vis City Day, which takes place on April 23 with several football teams.

To read more about sports in Croatia, follow TCN’s dedicated page

 

Tuesday, 5 April 2022

HNS Chooses New Croatia World Cup Camp in Doha

April 5, 2022 - The Croatia World Cup camp in Doha has been changed from the Dusit Hotel to the Hilton Doha Hotel. The final contract should be signed by April 30.

The Croatian Football Federation used the opportunity to change its priority option for the Croatia national team base camp during this year's World Cup in Qatar. Thus, the Vatreni will stay at the Hilton Doha during the tournament, announced HNS.

After the right to book the Hilton Doha hotel was lost by one of the national teams that failed to qualify for the final tournament, HNS reacted quickly and changed its priority from the Dusit Hotel to the Hilton Doha Hotel.

Attached to the Hilton Hotel is the Al Ersal 3 training center, identical to the Al Ersal 2 training center where the national team trained during its stay at the friendly tournament in Doha. Superior conditions in the training center compared to the Dusit Hotel's Al Gharafa center are crucial factors for changing the camp. In addition, Hilton Doha is one of only five hotels among the 40 offered in the Fifa catalog, which has its own beach and a pleasant outdoor environment. 

"Dusit is an excellent hotel that met all our conditions, but when the opportunity arose to book this camp, we reacted quickly, made an inspection visit, and quickly agreed on everything with the coach and captain who supported the change. The main advantage is a training center that is much closer to the hotel and has better conditions for players. That was our priority in the selection," said the president of HNS, Marijan Kustić.

"The Federation reacted brilliantly in less than 24 hours, as soon as the chance arose to enter the Hilton. Dusit is a great hotel, but here we have an objectively much better training center, which we met during this tournament and will provide us with perfect working conditions. In addition, players will be much more comfortable when they can drink coffee and socialize in the fresh air during the day, which is much more difficult in classic city hotels like Dusit. As FIFA has provided only five hotels for this profile, we are very pleased to have booked one. This is a great victory for the Croatian delegation, and I congratulate the management and the team from the HNS administration on the work done," said coach Zlatko Dalic.

HNS thus now has a secured priority option at the Hilton Doha / Al Ersal 3 camp, and the final contract should be signed by April 30, the deadline for all national teams to change their base camp.

To read more about sports in Croatia, follow TCN’s dedicated page

Saturday, 2 April 2022

Croatia 2022 World Cup Schedule: 11 am Opener against Morocco

April 2, 2022 - The Croatia 2022 World Cup schedule is here, with the dates, times, and stadiums listed for the highly anticipated tournament later this year.

The Croatia national team will play this November at the 2022 World Cup in Qatar in Group F together with Morocco, Canada, and Belgium. The draw was held on Friday night in Doha. 

If Croatia is one of the first two national teams in their group, they will cross paths with Group E, where Spain and Germany are the favorites to pass, while the group also includes Japan and either Costa Rica or New Zealand. 

Croatia's 2022 World Cup matches
FIFA has announced the exact schedule of matches, and Croatia will open the tournament against Morocco on November 23 at 11 am local time at the Al Bayt Stadium in Al Khor.

The second round is scheduled four days later, on November 27, when Croatia plays Canada at 5 pm at the Khalifa International Stadium in Doha.

The Group F derby is played on December 1, when Croatia and Belgium will play at 4 pm at the Ahmad Bin Ali Stadium in Al Rayyan.

Qatar is not opening the World Cup.
Interestingly, host Qatar will not be the first to open the competition at the World Cup. Their match against Ecuador was scheduled by the organizer at 5 pm on the first day of the tournament, but before them, the Netherlands and Senegal will take the pitch at 11 am in the same group. Then, from 2 pm, England and Iran will play.

Remembering Croatia against Mexico 20 years ago.
This early match time between Croatia and Morocco is not the earliest Croatia has played at a World Cup. Twenty years ago in Japan, Croatia played and lost to Mexico at 8:30 Croatian time.

Croatia 2022 World Cup Schedule: 
Wednesday, November 23

11:00 Croatia - Morocco

Sunday, November 27

17:00 Croatia - Canada

Thursday, December 1

16:00 Croatia - Belgium

Source: Gol.hr

To read more about sports in Croatia, follow TCN’s dedicated page

Saturday, 2 April 2022

Zlatko Dalić on Croatia World Cup Draw: "Goal is to Get Out of Group"

April 2, 2022 - Coach Zlatko Dalić comments on the Croatia World Cup draw, expressing that the goal is to get out of the group stage. 

Croatia national team coach Zlatko Dalić commented on the 2022 World Cup draw, which placed Croatia in Group F with Belgium, Morocco, and Canada, reports HNS.

Impressions are positive.

"At first glance, the group is not too tough. However, there is no easy group at the World Cup because there are the best national teams in the world. It won't be easy, but we have our goal, and that is to get out of the group. I believe we will prepare to win every game and make a step to the next round. The schedule of playing matches is good; we are playing against Morocco, Canada, and only then against Belgium." 

What does the opening against Morocco bring?

"We know that the coach of Morocco is Mr. Halilhodžić, who took four national teams to the World Cup. He will certainly prepare well for us, and it will be a tough match. Morocco beat Congo in the additional qualifiers, and several outstanding players in their ranks play in Europe. But, equally, Morocco will be very motivated because this is their first game in the World Cup."

Next up is the match against Canada, the team's first appearance at the World Cup since 1986.

“They achieved great success, but they fully deserved it. They were the first in their group; they beat the USA and Mexico, which signifies that they are very good. So they will be very motivated, they will come to the World Cup with a lot of good energy, and we will be a kind of "target" for them. So we have to be very careful because we have a tough opponent ahead of us."

In the last match in the group, Croatia awaits Belgium, the strongest national team on paper. 

"Belgium has been first in the Fifa ranking for several years; I know Mr. Martinez very well, a great coach. He has a great team at his disposal, powerful and capable of great things, with many quality individuals. That game will be our biggest challenge in the group, and it is good that it will be our third game. In any case, Belgium is the favorite in our group in terms of rating." 

To read more about sports in Croatia, follow TCN’s dedicated page

Friday, 1 April 2022

2022 World Cup Draw: Croatia in Group F with Belgium, Morocco, and Canada

April 1, 2022 - The 2022 World Cup draw was held in Doha tonight, revealing Croatia in Group F against Belgium, Morocco, and Canada. 

The draw for the World Cup groups was held today in Doha which started at 18:00 Croatia time. 

Croatia was in the second strongest group (Pot 2) based on the FIFA ranking from March 31. The only thing known apart from the ranking was that the host Qatar was automatically placed in Group A.

The rule is that there can be no more than two European teams in one group, and as for other continents, two teams from Asia, Africa, South America, or North and Central America cannot end up in the same group.

Croatia needed at least one draw at the Doha friendly tournament to secure their spot in the second pot, which they achieved already against Slovenia. 

Due to specific circumstances, this group draw was held when not all World Cup participants are known. So far, 29 national teams have qualified and three more are awaited. The list will be completed in June, after the completion of the remaining continental and intercontinental playoffs.

Another national team will come from Europe after Scotland and Ukraine meet in Glasgow. The winner of that match will play against Wales and the winner will be placed in one of the eight groups drawn today.

Peru is also will play against the winner of the Australia - United Arab Emirates match. One final playoffs pair is already known: Costa Rica - New Zealand.

2022 World Cup Pots

Pot 1: Qatar, Brazil, France, Belgium, Argentina, England, Spain, Portugal

Pot 2: Mexico, Netherlands, Denmark, Germany, Uruguay, Switzerland, USA, Croatia

Pot 3: Senegal, Iran, Japan, Morocco, Serbia, Poland, South Korea, Tunisia

Pot 4: Cameroon, Ghana, Canada, Ecuador, Saudi Arabia, Wales or Scotland or Ukraine, Australia or the United Arab Emirates or Peru, Costa Rica or New Zealand

2022 World Cup draw:
Group A: Qatar, Netherlands, Senegal, Ecuador 

Group B: England, USA, Iran, Playoff winner (Wales or winner of Scotland - Ukraine)

Group C: Argentina, Mexico, Poland, Saudi Arabia

Group D: France, Denmark, Tunisia, Playoff winner (either Peru or winner of the Australia - United Arab Emirates match)

Group E: Spain, Germany, Japan, Playoff winner (Costa Rica or New Zealand)

Group F: Belgium, Croatia, Morocco, Canada 

Group G: Brazil, Switzerland, Serbia, Cameroon

Group H: Portugal, Uruguay, Korean Republic, Ghana 

Croatia opens the World Cup on November 23 against Morocco, followed by Canada on November 27, and Belgium in the last round on December 1. The exact timetables and stadiums where Croatia will play will be known later.

The World Cup in Qatar will be played from November 21 to December 18. This will be the last World Cup according to the current concept (32 national teams divided into eight groups of four). At the 2026 World Cup, which will be hosted by Canada, Mexico, and the United States, there will be 48 national teams.

To read more about sports in Croatia, follow TCN’s dedicated page

Tuesday, 29 March 2022

Modrić and Kramarić Score in Croatia's 2:1 Win against Bulgaria in Doha

March 29, 2022 - Modrić and Kramarić scored in Croatia's 2:1 win against Bulgaria on Tuesday in Doha. 

After Croatia played 1:1 with Slovenia on Saturday, Croatia met Bulgaria on Tuesday for their second friendly match in Doha. 

Coach Zlatko Dalić changed 10 of the 11 players from the starting lineup against Slovenia. Just as he announced, he gave everyone a chance to start from the first minute, that is, to rest those who were in the starting 11 three days ago. Because Lovren wasn't ready, the only player who started both matches was Duje Ćaleta-Car.

Lineups

Croatia: (3-5-2): Ivušić - Škorić, Vida, Ćaleta-Car - Oršić, Majer, Moro, Pašalić, Barišić - Vlašić, Livaja

Bulgaria: Vucov - Turicov, P. Hristov, A. Hristov, Jordanov - Nedelev, Čočev, Malinov, Kirilov - Minčev, Despodov.

Recap

Croatia started offensively and got into Bulgaria's penalty area in the first minute. Bulgaria had their first dangerous counter in the 6th minute which Škorić cleared. 

Livaja had a chance in the 8th minute and Barišić shot from the left in the 11th which was cleared for a corner. Oršić had a chance two minutes later which also went out for a corner. 

Moro shot on target from 20 meters in the 20th minute which the Bulgaria keeper hit out for Croatia's third corner of the match.

Bulgaria had a chance in the 25th minute which Ivušić defended for a Bulgaria corner. Mile Škorić was injured moments later forcing Pogrančić to be subbed on in the 28th minute.

Barišić shot again from the left in the 35th minute and Orišić with his left foot three minutes later. 

The first half ended 0:0 with 59% of possession for Croatia and 11 total shots, 4 of which were on target. 

Perišić and Kovačić came on for Moro and Vida to start the second half. 

Perišić threatened Bulgaria's goal two minutes into the second half. Pašalić also had a chance in the 54th minute. 

In the 60th minute, Vlašić and Livaja came out for Kramarić and Budimir. 

In the 63rd minute, Ćaleta-Car got his second yellow card and was sent off, forcing Croatia to play with a man down. 

Despodov took advantage of a hole in Croatia's defense to put Bulgaria ahead in the 69th minute. A foul was called on Kramarić in the penalty area five minutes later and Modrić scored from the penalty spot for 1:1. 

Kramarić dribbled through Bulgaria's defense in the 80th minute to find the far post for 2:1 Croatia. 

Bulgaria had a brilliant chance in the 87th minute after Kovačić lost the ball, though Barišić saved the day to keep it 2:1. 

Bulgaria had another chance in the 90th minute and the ref added 4 minutes of stoppage time. The match ended 2:1 for Croatia. 

To read more about sports in Croatia, follow TCN’s dedicated page

Monday, 28 March 2022

Zlatko Dalić Reveals Croatia Lineup against Bulgaria in Doha

March 28, 2022 - Coach Zlatko Dalić has revealed a much different Croatia lineup against Bulgaria on Tuesday. It will be the second friendly match in Doha after Croatia and Slovenia drew 1:1 on Saturday.

Croatia national football team coach Zlatko Dalić once again commented on Croatia's performance in the first friendly match in Doha on Saturday, reports HNS.

Croatia dominated Slovenia for most of the match, which ended in a draw after conceding a goal in the last moments.

"I am sorry for the goal we conceded in the last minute. We knew there would be two minutes of stoppage time before that corner kick when we didn’t react well, and then we conceded a goal anyway. We did not stand well in the initial formation; a hole was created, but, well… It is better that it happened now than later. We will analyze the situation well, see where we went wrong, and correct it.

All in all, it saddened me because we didn't deserve the game to end 1:1. We played well, especially after the first twenty minutes when we weren’t ourselves. We had narrowed a bit; our legs were stiff and heavy, there was no depth. I have to admit that it was much better in training. It was good," said Dalić, who once again commented on the defense.

 

"The players had to attack the ball after the cross, but they didn't set up well. If they had stood properly in the space, the Slovenian player would not have come to the ideal situation to score. It's a matter of concentration. However, the problem was that we replaced six players, so the formation and schedule of players changed at that break, and we could not follow everything. Even though we knew we had two minutes. I'm sorry for the goal we received in the last seconds, but we will try to fix it in the games that follow."

The coach announced a completely new team against Bulgaria.

"Croatia solved all its problems four months ago. We are calm and peaceful, what we have to do now is check some things, that is my job as a coach. We need to get answers to some questions, and we only have a chance now. Competitive matches come later when there are no more sub-questions so that we will give a chance to all players. I told the guys that it’s all up to them, that no one will be deprived; what they show and play will be the only thing relevant to whether or not they will be part of the national team. That is why I want to give a chance to all the players. Ivušić will get a chance in goal; we have small problems in the defense because Sosa is in pain, and I don't think we will use him. He surprised me because he came to the gathering with an injury he didn’t talk about. He wanted to be with us, he tried, he struggled, but we will not force him. It doesn't make sense; I want him to rest and be ready to return to the club."

Dalić announced the rest of the lineup:

"The stoppers will be Škorić, Vida, and Ćaleta-Car, on the left side Barišić, on the right maybe Juranović, although it will be his second game then. Moro, Pašalić, and Majer will be in the midfield, and Vlašić and Livaja will be in the attack. When it comes to the right flank, we are only in a little doubt; I will not tell you who we are thinking about because you will make drama around it. The goal is to try this team and, of course, win the game." 

The coach again praised the players for their engagement and the game against Slovenia.

"We played a fair game; it's good to have a wide frame; sweet worries await me. The Nations League is already waiting for us in three months. We face difficult exams during which we will have to use more players because we will play four games in ten days. After the Doha games, the players will, in any case, know what they did or did not do."

Croatia also awaits the upcoming World Cup draw. 

"Croatia has competed in five world championships and won two medals. Who has that? And we underestimate that. A country of four million people has achieved such great results… This is something fascinating. The draw... it would be good if we pulled Qatar, no matter how much we underestimate anyone. Our goal is to go through the group to take that first step. It will be difficult, Qatar will be with the best national teams, but I believe in our team and us. I do not want to talk about some higher goals. In Russia, we went step by step. All opponents are tough from the first strong group, except the host, who is objectively the easiest opponent. The third and fourth strong group… I didn't think much about it; when the draw is over, I will be able to comment a bit more," concluded the coach.

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