19:30 / 23.11.2022.

Author: Domagoj Ferenčić

Croatia opens its World Cup campaign will a scoreless draw against Morocco

Croatian national team applauds their fans after Morocco game

Croatian national team applauds their fans after Morocco game

Foto: Goran Stanzl / PIXSELL

Expectations for coach Zlatko Dalić’s team at the 2022 World Cup in Qatar are high after finishing second at the 2018 World Cup in Russia. Croatia is being led by veteran Real Madrid midfielder and team captain, Luka Modrić.

Croatia opened its run at the World Cup in Qatar on Wednesday, playing to a scoreless draw against Group F opponents Morocco, in Al Khor this morning. In a tough match against a disciplined African team, Croatia showed little willingness to assert itself on the pitch. This did not go unnoticed by head coach Zlatko Dalić: "It was a difficult game for us. My one small criticism is that we lacked decisiveness and vertical play, we lacked a little courage. But obviously we were a little wary of their counter attack and making a mistake. It was the first game and somehow the situation for us is a little different than it was four years ago, because we're a target for everyone else. But, there's nothing to despair about, we're moving forward."

Midfielder Nikola Vlašić missed the biggest chance of the game in the 45th minute of play, when his shot from close range was saved by the Moroccan goalkeeper. Speaking after the game team captain Luka Modrić voiced his hope that the team has rid itself of opening game nerves: "We wanted to open the championships with a win, but unfortunately that didn't work out for us. However, it's just the first game and things will definitely be easier for us as the tournament progresses, and I hope that we will play better."

Center-back Joško Gvardiol said the team started the game on its heels: "I would say that we started the game a little tense. At the end of the first half we grabbed the reigns and created two scoring opportunities, but simply couldn't convert. We tried to go into the second half with a better energy, but they are a tough team. We have a few more chances but failed to capitalize, and we have to be content with one point."

In spite of the disappointing outcome, the atmosphere outside Al Bayt Stadium was fantastic. Just hours before the start of the match Croatian fans unfurled a massive Croatian flag in downtown Doha. The 200 meter long flag weighs some one hundred kilograms and was brought to Qatar, through a special customs procedure, by fans from Crikvenica.

Croatia plays Canada next on Sunday, November 27th. Opening kick-off is at 5PM Central European Time in Khalifa International Stadium in Doha.

Source: HRT

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