Croatia defender Vedran Corluka has emphasised that his country will not be going to Russia in June just to make up the numbers at the 2018 FIFA World Cup.
Since their third place effort at the 1998 World Cup in France, Croatia have been underachievers, failing to go past the group stage in 2002, 2006 and 2014. But the story will change in Russia, according to central defender Corluka.
“We are tired of being billed as a talented generation which keeps flattering to deceive,” Reuters quotes Corluka as telling the Croatian Football Association (www.hns-cff.hr).
“We let ourselves and our fans down in every World Cup since the 1998 tournament, especially the last one. We have to focus on our strengths and use the good atmosphere in the dressing room as a platform.”
Croatia will kick off their World Cup campaign against Nigeria on June 16 in Kaliningrad, before taking on Argentina and Iceland in Group D. Well ahead of these matches and in their preparations to change their underachiever’s toga, Croatia will be facing Brazil and Senegal in warm-up games at Anfield on June 3 and June 8 in Osijek respectively.
“We will leave nothing in the tank when we face Brazil because there is no other way against an opponent of their calibre,” said at Croatia’s training camp in Rovinj.
“Then we can start thinking about Nigeria and Argentina, our opening rivals. I am looking forward to locking horns with the phenomenal Lionel Messi, but we are now focused on the warm-up clash with Brazil.”