Croatia coach Zlatko Dalić announced the tournament in Doha on Monday as the national team gathered in Zagreb for the first time since qualifying for the 2022 World Cup. Croatia will face Slovenia and Bulgaria in Doha on March 26 and March 29, reports HNS.
Dalić revealed that Šime Vrsaljko and Marcelo Brozović dropped out due to injuries, while Mile Škorić and Nikola Moro will step in instead.
“Brozović and Vrsaljko dropped out of the original lineup due to injuries, and I’m sorry about that. We gather in Zagreb, but five players come to Doha directly from their clubs. Our motivation is great in the upcoming matches to prepare for what awaits us in June. This will be a very good test for all of us to see what we can do, to prepare for the Nations League,” said Dalić, who made it clear that he intends to use all players.
“We invited 25 players, and the idea is for everyone to play. We will give a chance to all the players, but there is no point in burdening them to the maximum. I want to try all the players. Our goal is for everyone to play. We will make two teams for those two games; the players are very busy in their clubs anyway. I think it will be good to relieve them a bit.”
“We will play with three in the defense in both games; we will try that system to have another tactical addition. We will have two good games because the opponents are good. We will work on the unity of the national team,” Dalić began and added:
“I am looking forward to this gathering and matches because the national team is together after four months. Unfortunately, Brozović and Vrsaljko dropped out due to muscle injuries, both of whom remained at their clubs to rehabilitate. That is why we activated the reserves Škorić and Moro.”
What happened with Petković?
“I do not want to write off Bruno Petković, and I did not write him off. I want him as he was in the qualifications. That is good for us, and I am waiting for him. I want him back in shape; I emphasize in the striker position because I see him there.
I hope that he will come back and that by June, he will be better and understand my message that he is not up to standard and that he can do much, much better. We do not have a more complete and better striker than Bruno Petković when he is in the right form. He has not been written off, and I want him on the national team. “
Who will be in goal?
“Livaković will defend one game, and one by Ivušić. That’s the plan. Grbić has no right to be called if he does not defend at his club. The goalkeeper is not in the right condition if he does not defend. So we have no reason to fear, Livaković is defending well, Ivušić as well, and younger keepers are coming. There is also Lovre Kalinić, who is good in Hajduk,” reveals coach Dalić.
Brozović and Vrsaljko dropped out, as well as Josip Brekalo
“Something always happens that we did not anticipate, and Brozović and Vrsaljko dropped out. We are following the others, especially the young players, surely some will come to the competition. First of all being Stanišić and Sučić, who are already with us.
There is also Šutalo, but all in good time. We have the basis of the team; we have the breadth because each position is filled with two or three players. We have a combination of experience and youth, new ones give energy, but without more experienced ones, it will not work. We are not in a hurry with the final conclusions; we will give everyone a chance. We follow young players who have an opportunity to jump in with good performances,” said Dalić.
Last night, news arrived that national team member Josip Brekalo tested positive for coronavirus and will miss Croatia’s first friendly match in Doha on March 26 against Slovenia. Depending on how the situation develops, he will compete in the second match in Doha on March 29 against Bulgaria.
Brekalo recorded 30 appearances for the national team and scored four goals.
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