Saturday, 26 February 2022

Zlatko Dalić and Croatia Coaching Staff Prepare for Doha Friendly Tournament

February 26, 2022 - Zlatko Dalić and the Croatia coaching staff are preparing for the upcoming national team gathering in March, when Croatia will play a friendly tournament in Doha against Slovenia and Bulgaria. 

Croatia national team coach Zlatko Dalić held a meeting with members of his professional staff on Thursday at the HNS headquarters, reports HNS.

In addition to coach Dalić, the meeting was attended by technical director Stipe Pletikosa, assistants Ivica Olić, Mario Mandžukić, and Dražen Ladić, goalkeeper coach Marjan Mrmić, fitness coach Luka Milanović and team manager Iva Olivari, while Vedran Ćorluka and Marc Rochon were justifiably absent.

Dalić spoke with his associates about the upcoming national team gathering in March, the first after November 2021 when Croatia successfully qualified for the World Cup in Qatar. In March, Croatia will travel to Doha to play friendly matches against Slovenia and Bulgaria.

"Although we are in constant contact, it is good when we manage to gather live and talk about what awaits us. I am glad to see all staff members full of energy, enthusiasm, and optimism ahead of the March gathering, which everyone is very excited about. We are following our players in detail, we are thinking about how to make the most of this gathering in Doha both on and off the pitch, and I believe that we will lay a good foundation there for everything that awaits us later in the year," said coach Dalić.

Recall, the Croatian Football Federation management agreed that the Croatia national team would play a friendly tournament in Qatar in March, with two matches in Doha.

Croatia will face Slovenia on March 26 and play Bulgaria three days later. The national team of Qatar will also play in the tournament against Bulgaria (March 26) and Slovenia (March 29). The matches will be played at the stadiums in Doha, where the FIFA World Cup matches will be played. The exact timetables and stadiums will be defined later, and HNS will inform fans promptly about the possibilities of buying tickets.

The Croatia coach and the staff members also watched the Europa League match between Dinamo and Sevilla. The Croatian champion was eliminated after a 3:2 aggregate for the Spanish side.

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Saturday, 9 October 2021

Ivica Olić Talks Luka Sučić Call Up and More Ahead of Croatia's Slovakia Qualifier

October 9, 2021 - Assistant coach Ivica Olić addressed the press on Saturday after Croatia's victory against Cyprus on Friday. The big news is that coach Zlatko Dalić called up the young Red Bull Salzburg star Luka Sučić to replace Mateo Kovačić in the 2022 World Cup qualifier against Slovakia on Monday. 

After a great 3:0 victory in Cyprus, the Croatia national football team will face Slovakia to continue the 2022 World Cup qualifiers on Monday.

Croatia will play against Slovakia at home, at City Garden Stadium in Osijek. Today, the national team assistant coach, Ivica Olić, addressed journalists.

The former Croatia national team player initially spoke about the game against Cyprus.

"These are the games in which you can lose a lot and gain very little. We knew that Cyprus would hold a positive result, and until there was a two-goal difference for us, they held on. They relied mainly on defense and tried to shake us with counterattacks, but after the game, when we looked at everything again, Cyprus must be happy that it ended only 3:0."

Josip Stanišić, a member of Bayern Munich, made his national team debut.

"We have to be grateful to both Bayern and coach Nagelsmann for trusting him. Until this season, Stanišić spent practically all his time in the second team of Bayern, and with the injury of Pavard, he came to the fore and imposed himself. The reviews for such a young and ‘inexperienced’ player were great. When he decided to play for the Croatia national team, it was a matter of time before getting a chance. Juranović's injury dropped him out of the first 11, and in addition to a couple of initial mistakes, he played an excellent game against Cyprus."

Coach Zlatko Dalić invited RB Salzburg's Luka Sučić to join the national team. 

The RB Salzburg footballer is a standard first-team player of the best Austrian team and he regularly plays in the Champions League. He showed magnificent talent in only a few appearances for the young Croatian national team. On Friday in Varaždin, the Croatia U21s defeated Norway 3:2, and Sučić participated in all three goals, either as a scorer or as an assistant. 

"Luka had several great performances in the Champions League, he starts in the Austrian championship, he has been under our radar for a long time, and we thought about him at the last gathering. In that position, the competition is the biggest in Croatia, and it is not easy to be inside. However, he played great yesterday, he was one of the best, and I think he is a quality and potent player who has a great future ahead of him if injuries bypass him."

Ivica Olić hopes for great support from the fans and a good result in Osijek.

"We hear that ticket sales are going great, the stadium is always well filled here, and I do not doubt that it will be the same on Monday. Slovakia is a well-known opponent, which lost its ambition for first or second place after losing in Russia. They may not be motivated; I believe the coach will give a chance to other players. Sometimes they can be dangerous, but we have to concentrate on the last four games and take three points. We see that Russia is also taking points, and the last game may decide who directly qualifies for Qatar. There is no relaxation, we are going for three points, and I am sure that the audience will carry us to victory with a full stadium."

Mateo Kovačić will miss the match against Slovakia due to yellow cards.

"Kova is in great shape and is an integral part of this team. Every team lacks when there is no such player. But we have a wide choice here, and whoever comes in instead will be sure to do well.

Croatia and Russia are in a dead-even race, leading the table with 16 points each, six more than Slovenia, which also can qualify. Russia has two challenging away games in the remaining three games. The first is on Monday in Maribor, and the last round of qualifications is on November 14 at Poljud.

Russia celebrated minimally yesterday against Slovakia with an own goal by Skriniara, while Slovenia outclassed Malta away 4:0.

"I was surprised by Slovenia's big result, but I am glad that it ended that way, mathematically they are also candidates for second place. I hope that in the match against Russia, they can take at least one point, and I would like three. But we should not burden ourselves with that; the most important thing is that we continue to play like this. Of course, I want Slovenia to help, but we have a match point in the last game."

Ivica Olić commented on Andrej Kramarić's goal-scoring crisis in the national team.

"I was sorry that VAR annulled his goal. Every striker will undoubtedly be in a goal-scoring crisis for a while, and that happens to the best. Andrej played a good game against Cyprus and won a penalty kick. It is the team that won the game and the team that will get the attackers out of the mini-crisis. I do not doubt Andrej's quality, and I know that he will score again soon. Crises happen to everyone, but then a series of goals can follow."

Source: HRT

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Tuesday, 18 May 2021

Ivica Olić Returns to Croatia National Team Bench for EURO 2020

May 18, 2021 - Ivica Olić returns to Croatia as an assistant to coach Zlatko Dalić for EURO 2020! 

"Ivica was allowed to join the national team. He wanted it himself, considering that he now has free time. He decided that he did not want to rest," agent Dejan Joksimović told Russian RIA Sport, as reported by Index.hr and 24 Sata.

Although Vedran Ćorluka joined the national team as a replacement for Olić, Olić managed to get CSKA to allow him to work with the Croatia national team this summer.

Olić took over CSKA in April this year, when he was fifth, but failed to get them out of trouble. He finished sixth, which is the worst placement of the Moscow club in the Russian championship since 2001.

Former CSKA player Zoran Tošić stated that Olić's decision is not clear to him because he could miss part of the club's preparations.

"I thought Ivica needed time to solve the problems at CSKA; it would probably be better if he stayed. I hope the coach and the professional staff know what they are doing. I will always support CSKA because I spent a lot of time there," Tošić said.

Olić thus joins Vedran Ćorluka and Dražen Ladić as part of Zlatko Dalić's coaching staff at EURO 2020. 

The Croatia national football team will gather on May 25 at the beginning of preparations for the Euro, which will traditionally be held in Rovinj. After the friendly against Armenia, the national teal will have a final check on June 6 against Belgium in Brussels, from where they will travel to the base camp in St. Andrews on June 8. 

The UEFA EURO 2020 will take place between June 11 and July 11, 2021. Croatia plays in Group D (London/Glasgow) with England (hosts), Scotland (hosts), and the Czech Republic.

Croatia opens its EURO campaign on Sunday, June 13, against England (15:00, London). On Friday, June. 18, Croatia plays. The Czech Republic in Glasgow, Scotland (18:00). Croatia's final group stage match is against Scotland on June 22 in Glasgow (21:00). 

The top two in each group plus the four best third-placed teams go through to the knockout phase. The round of 16 is scheduled from June 26 to 29. The quarterfinals are held on July 2 and 3, the semifinals on July 6 and 7. The final will be played on July 11 at Wembley Stadium in London. 

We will have more on this soon!

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Sunday, 9 May 2021

Borna Sosa on Decision to Play for Germany: Croatia Doesn't Need Me

May 9, 2021 - Borna Sosa, one of the most talented young Croatian football players and a member of the U21 national team, has decided to play for the national team of Germany. The 24-year-old footballer talks to Index.hr about his decision.

An unforgettable day is behind Borna Sosa, one of the greatest Croatian talents who, with a brilliant game in the Bundesliga, provoked the legendary Oliver Bierhoff and the German Football Federation to urgently arrange for his German citizenship and status in their national team. The young defender has just made the most important transfer in his career and announced that he would play for Germany in the future, while Croatia has been left without the player it has been waiting for for 20 years, since the farewell of Robert Jarni.

Sosa is one of the best offensive defenders in Europe, plays as a left-back, and excels in the Stuttgart jersey, where he arrived from Dinamo in 2018 in a transfer worth six million euros. He was a member and occasional captain of the U21 Croatia national team, but he never received an invitation from the A team. When the news about the acquisition of the German Federation was published on Friday, panic started in all HNS structures. 

The first HNS operative, director Marijan Kustić, claims that he found out about the German Football Federations' offensive the day before yesterday, coach Zlatko Dalić believes that Sosa knew he should make his debut in the match against Malta in March and that his former assistant Ivica Olic led the operation, while the young football player says that he never saw Olic, but received messages through intermediaries.

Sosa agreed to tell Index.hr his side of the story and made claims that could cause great damage to the responsible HNS operatives.

In the Croatian media, your transfer to the national team of Germany is the topic of the day, but there are many different messages and contradictory statements. Did you get to read any of that?

Yes, I have seen the statements in the Croatian media, and I will answer everything you ask me.

Tell us what is true. Why did you decide to play for Germany?

I decided to play for Germany because I think I am already 24 years old, I have played in the Bundesliga for three years, and I am still without a performance in the A national team. I realized that Croatia is not counting on me and thinking they have better players in my position. I respect that attitude and their decision, there is no anger, and we remain on good terms. I decided to play for Germany.

Have you talked about this with HNS before?

I’m not the type who waits for others to pull moves; I pull them when I think it’s good and necessary. I made the decision personally. This season I had no contact with people from Croatia's A national team, and no one ever called me from HNS. I spoke with Dalic for the first time this morning when the news came out that I had decided on Germany.

Is it true that you received a guarantee that you would make your debut against Malta in the qualifiers for Qatar?

That's not true. Dalic did not tell me that I would make my debut against Malta, nor did we ever talk. There was speculation, there was talk about it, and you wrote that Dalic was talking about it. Officially, I never received any invitation from the Croatia national team.

Did Ivica Olic come to Stuttgart matches and follow your performances? We were told that Olic, now a former assistant coach of Dalic, was in charge of following you and informing you about Dalic's plans.

Olic did not come, as far as I know. I don't know what his role is, but he told me through a third person that I will be invited to the A national team in March, i.e., in the opening cycle of the Qatar World Cup qualifiers. I never talked to Olic, there were some messages through intermediaries, and I didn't take it seriously. The only invitation I ever received from Croatia was sent to me by the coach of the U21 national team, Igor Bišćan, and, as you know, I responded. I played in the Euro qualifiers.

If you had received Dalic's call earlier, what would you have done?

If I had received Dalic's invitation and played in March, or there in September and October last year when there were opportunities, I would have played for Croatia. There have been many gatherings, and I am no longer 17 but 24 years old. Unfortunately, it was not feasible for me to receive an invitation from Croatia and our paths diverged. I received Dalic's support and understanding this morning, and I thank him. He wished me luck; I wish him the same. Big things are waiting for me. I’m looking forward to getting a chance to play with such greats, mostly Bayern players.

What are your experiences with the U21 national team? Why didn't you come to the Euro?

I also had some injury problems then, and after I received a red card in the last qualifying match and a suspension for the first two games at the Euros with the young national team, my club decided for me to stay there. They said they didn't want me to go to the national team because I didn't have the right to play in the tournament's first two games due to a red card. There was no reason for them to take the risk and send me to train with the young national team if there is no need. Personally, I also think that there is no point in taking risks, the rhythm of the matches is crazy anyway, and every detail should be paid attention to. The club made the decision; they explained to me that they didn’t want me to get hurt and lose me unnecessarily. I couldn't play for the national team anyway.

But the match against England is disputable when the suspension expired. It was a key match to get to the quarterfinals. You told Bišćan that you were injured, and a few days later, you played for Stuttgart. What happened?

There will always be speculation, but I won't deal with it. I don’t want to get into arguments, and I wouldn’t talk about it too much because tensions are rising and unnecessary. I sent Bišćan a doctor's report in which it was clearly written that I was not in the best condition. The problem is always the same, my right knee. Maybe some people don’t believe I’m hurt, but those who follow my career know how much I’ve been through so far. Maybe some people can’t understand it at all. I don't blame anyone.

It's hard to count all the injuries you went through during the first two seasons in the Bundesliga - your back, knee, edema, concussion ... How do you feel now, and are you satisfied with the season, the results, and your game?

I can’t be happier than I am now, both because of the personal game and because of the whole team. After two seasons where I struggled with injuries, this year, everything fell into place. I collected ten assists. I healed an injury that caused me to miss three games before last night’s game against Augsburg. It is rare for defenders to collect so many assists in a season.

After checking the data in the top 5 leagues, only Cuadrado is better and has one more assist.  

Yes, I know about that fact. Crossing is my forte, and it has nothing to do with the system in which Stuttgart plays. I honed the strongest weapon I have and can center if needed from Mars as well. If I’m sure of anything in life, then it’s my crossing, ha-ha.

What impression did the director of the German federation, the famous striker Oliver Bierhoff, leave on you?

The German Federation is the strongest in the world, and Bierhoff, as the chief operative, proved to be a man of his word. He is calm and sticks to what he says; you can’t function any differently in Germany.

How long will it take to join the German national team?

The whole story takes about two to three months. They did everything we could to resolve the citizenship as soon as possible, and I am very grateful for that.

How did it start?

They found out that my mom was born in Germany, and they got in touch with me. We started the process, and we were constantly communicating. They came to every game I played. They said I was responding to them as a player for the German national team system.

Have you ever met coach Dalic?

I don't remember; I think I saw him once in my life, nothing official. Thus, HNS had information for two months that I had an offer from Germany. I personally reported this to one director.

Which director? There are not many directors in HNS?

It doesn’t matter; I really don't want to name names. It's over. I told them I had an offer from Germany and to talk to them. That was it; no one from HNS contacted me after that. They made their decision; I made mine, there is no evil, and no tension should be created.

You must have read the comments of angry fans. How do you deal with that?

I try to explain to people that this is a business decision. Many call me a traitor, but they do not understand that I still love Croatia the most, and it will always be my country, the country of my family and friends. I do not play for the Croatia national team, but I still love my country. In the business world, I decided to play football for Germany.

Are you already on Germany's list for the Euros?

I don't know if we will reach the Euro; FIFA will solve the change of my citizenship, it is a technical matter, and it may not be resolved by the Euro. But that’s not crucial for me; I’m thinking about the next 10 to 12 years with the German national team.

The sporting director of Stuttgart called you the new Beckham. How about that?

He said that last year. It's funny that the director announced before the season that I have the best-left foot in the Bundesliga, but people didn't believe him. I'm so glad now, not so much for me ... I know what I can do. I am glad that I did not let the director down; now everyone knows that he has good grades. I am nicknamed the "god of crossing" in Germany.

Will you go to Bayern this summer?
As for the transfer to Bayern, where there is smoke, there is also fire. There will be an interesting transition period.

Will you support Croatia at the Euro?

Yes, unless Croatia plays against Germany, ha-ha. Croatia will always be my beautiful country, and in Germany, I decided to develop football. Thanks to everyone who decided to help me along the way.

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Tuesday, 23 March 2021

Ivica Olić is New CSKA Moscow Coach!

March 23, 2021 - The latest Croatian football news - Ivica Olić is the new CSKA Moscow coach!

The former Croatia national team assistant of Zlatko Dalić accepted the offer of his former club, said goodbye to the coach and national team in Zagreb on Monday, and traveled to Moscow, where he signed a new contract today.

"The 41-year-old Croat is coming back to the Army Men club after 15 years.

PFC CSKA and Ivica Olić have reached an agreement on the appointment of a Croatian specialist as a head coach. Ivica will start working on March 23 — he will be introduced to the team, and he will hold his first training session.

Olić is well known in Russia for playing for Red-Blues. Croat played 116 matches for PFC CSKA from 2003 to 2006, in which he scored 44 goals.

Ivica, as a player, won 3 championship titles, 2 Russian Cups, 2 Super Cups, and the UEFA Cup with Army Men. We wish him great success also as a coach!

Welcome home!" said CSKA on its website, officially presented Olić to the public. 

On Monday, Zlatko Dalić came to the Hitrec-Kaciana field training with only one assistant, Dražen Ladić, fitness coach Luka Milanović, and goalkeeper expert Marjan Mrmić. 

Zlatko Dalić said that Olić's departure to CSKA is an honor for Croatian football.

"We are glad when big clubs hire Croatian coaches," the coach pointed out.

Nikola Vlašić, who is currently with the Croatia national team, will play under Olić. According to the media, CSKA would like to bring back former players Elvir Rahimir and Miloš Krasić.

Zlatko Dalić is not looking for Olić's replacement in the national team now because this is a quick gathering with not much time for training. Dalić will certainly find a new solution and strengthen his professional staff for the Euros this summer. 

Source: Jutarnji List

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Tuesday, 26 January 2021

Andrej Kramaric Surpasses Ivica Olic as Top Croatian Scorer in Bundesliga

January 26, 2021 - Andrej Kramaric has surpassed Ivica Olic to become the top Croatian scorer in Bundesliga!

Croatia national team player Andrej Kramaric scored two goals in Sunday's (3-0) Hoffenheim victory against Cologne, resulting in a stellar 74 Bundesliga goals - the most of any Croatian footballer in the German league, reports Index.hr.

Kramaric scored both goals from penalty kicks, the first in the 7th and the second in the 75th minute. Goalkeeper Timo Horn flew in the wrong direction on both penalties, and Kramaric scored his 11th and 12th Bundesliga goals of the season. Kramaric played for Hoffenheim only 19 times in the new season, and in addition to the goals, he also recorded two assists.

Kramaric has thus become the top Croatian scorer in the Bundesliga 74 goals, two more than Ivica Olić.

Ivica Olic scored 72 in his Bundesliga career, followed by Mario Mandzukic (53), Mladen Petric (51), and Ivan Klasnic (50). However, while the legendary Olic needed 238 games for 72 goals, Kramaric reached 74 goals in only 146 matches.

"Even before the game, I knew that with one goal, I would reach Ivica Olic and become the most successful Croatian scorer in the history of Bundesliga. I never thought in my career that I would achieve something like that, this is a great honor for me, and I am very proud of this success," said Andrej Kramarić (29), for 24 Sata.

"I have to admit, I was motivated by Ivica Olic's figure, I really wanted to reach him. I play all the time for Hoffenheim, while Olic and Mandzukic had the opportunity to play in much bigger clubs like Bayern, so I reached this number with a lot fewer games played. I believe that all this adds value and even more importance to my success. None of them have congratulated me on this record yet, but I know the guys will get back to me soon."

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

Thursday, 18 April 2019

Croatia to Have a Representative in Champions League Final for 8th Consecutive Year

No matter how the semifinals end, Croatia will have one representative in the Champions League final on June 1st in Madrid.

Monday, 23 October 2017

Dalić Announces Lineup for Upcoming World Cup Playoff Against Greece

Zlatko Dalić has published his first lineup of the Croatian national team as the new coach, immediately making changes to his predecessor Ante Čačić.

Thursday, 19 October 2017

In Other Croatian National Team News: Ivica Olić Returns to Bench, Carlo Ancelotti in Running for Coach?

Another exciting day in the wonderful world of Croatian football.

Sunday, 25 June 2017

"I'm Ready to Hang Up My Boots": Ivica Olić Announces Official Retirement from Football

Ivica Olić has announced the official end to his professional football career. 

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