Croatia Coach Zlatko Dalić Interviews with FIFA: “My Dream Has Come True”

Daniela Rogulj

Croatian football coach Zlatko Dalić gave an interview for the official website of the International Football Federation (FIFA), with an emphasis on the upcoming performance of the Croatia national team at the World Cup in Russia this summer.

As you know, Zlatko Dalić took over the Croatia national team at the end of the qualifying round for the World Cup in Russia last year, and if you told the former Al Ain coach he’d be coaching the national team in a year – he would never have believed you. 

In an interview with on January 30, 2018, Dalić talks about his rise as the coach of Croatia, his experience thus far, and the team’s potential at the World Cup 2018 in Russia. 

“I have to give all the credit to the players,” said Dalić when asked about he was able to boost the team in the final World Cup qualifying campaign. “There wasn’t much time for training and preparation, so I focused on meetings, communication, and motivation. We changed some details tactically, but the most important thing was for the players to be aware that this was their last chance to reach the World Cup – and they stepped up at the most important moment,” added the coach. 

Luka Modrić, the Real Madrid midfielder who is frequently named as one of the best 11 players in the world (recall, he was 5th in last year’s Ballon d’ Or), praised Dalić for doing a phenomenal job with the Croatia national team. A nod from one of the best footballers today must have helped lift the new coach’s spirits. 

“If a player like Luka is satisfied with your work, it means you did something well,” said Dalić. “I always try to push everyone to reach their potential, and I look to have a good relationship with my players. Having players’ trust is the most important thing for me. We have a strong group, with really good players – they just needed a little ‘push’ in a right direction,” he said, adding that Luka is Croatia’s best player – and is ‘the engine that makes the team go, and a captain who leads by example.’ 

When asked about how the new coach will be preparing for the upcoming World Cup, Dalić says he plans to travel and meet with players and their club coaches to discuss their status and form ahead of the highly anticipated tournament – emphasizing that he is only focused on choosing players that are entirely fit. In addition to the two friendly matches scheduled in March in the US against Peru and Mexico, Dalić hopes to hold two more friendlies against equally strong opponents in June. 

Croatia drew Argentina, Iceland, and Nigeria in their World Cup group, which is one of the toughest groups in the tournament. Though the coach believes Argentina is one of the favorites to win the World Cup, how does feel about Iceland and Nigeria?

“Iceland were the best team in our group. We know them very well and had a tough loss against them in Reykjavik,” said Dalić. “I see Nigeria as a young, potent and hungry team with great potential,” he continued, adding that the first match against Nigeria is very important as it will set the tone for the rest of the tournament.

Though the Croatia team has great individual quality, with some of their best players competing in the top leagues around Europe, that is not the attribute that will take Croatia far at this year’s competition. 

“Our main strength has to be the team. I believe that pride and patriotism shown by our players when playing for Croatia is a very important attribute. That’s something we need to combine with our quality; if we do that, we’ll have a good chance of reaching our goals,” said Dalić. 

You can read the full interview on


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