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Croatia vs Serbia – 2014 World Cup Qualifier – Stimac and Sma dismiss talk of tension with Serbia
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STIMAC PLEASED WITH DRAW
The Croatian national team manager Igor Stimac has said that the team is much better than the way they played in the 1-1 draw with Belgium. Croatia were taking on Belgium in a recent World Cup qualifying match. Due to the presence of high profile players like Luka Modric, Croatia were expected to take all three points from this match. However, they were held to a surprising 1-1 draw with Belgium. After the match, the national team manager Igor Stimac said that the fitness of the players was not up to the mark and he expected the performance of the team to improve vastly over the coming months.
He has also said that he is extremely happy with the draw against one of the young and talented teams in Europe. Belgium contain the likes of Eden Hazard, Romelu Lukaku, and Marouane Fellaini. Due to the strength of the opposition, Igor Stimac reckons that it was point well earned. He is also confident that the team will be able to utilise the home matches in order to get three points, which will enable them to play in the 2014 FIFA World Cup. Croatia missed an opportunity to play in the last World Cup, but took part in the European Championships in the summer.
“We will wait for all our players to get fit. When Luka Modric is fit we will easily win such matches as the one against Belgium,” said Igor Stimac after the match. Croatia currently third in the standings after having played two matches up until now. They have four points on the board. Serbia and Belgium are currently above them in the table due to the better goal difference. Scotland, Wales, Serbia and Belgium are the major threats for Croatia in their hopes of qualifying for the World Cup.
STIMAC TAKES OVER
The Croatian football Association has appointed the former Croatian defender Igor Stimac has replacement for Slaven Bilic, who decided to step down from his post after the end of the Euro 2012. The former West Ham defender has decided to take up an offer to manage Russian club Lokomotiv Moscow rather than continue with the Croatian national team, who have achieved a lot during the initial years of his reign. Slaven Bilic helped the Croatian national team qualify for the Euro 2008, while also performing exceptionally well at this major tournament. However, they have failed to qualify for the 2010 FIFA World Cup, while they did not so well at the Euro 2012.
As a result, the Croatian football Association decided that it was time for a change, which happened to be the same decision taken by Slaven Bilic as well. They have appointed 44-year-old Igor Stimac in his place. Igor Stimac will be hoping to lead the national team to the 2014 FIFA World Cup – the qualifying campaign for which will begin shortly. Igor Stimac and Slaven Bilic know each other pretty well having played together at the 1998 World Cup, in which Croatian excelled and exceeded all expectations.
Stimac has acknowledged the fact that the qualifying group that contains Croatia is the toughest of all because it contains the likes of Serbia, Belgium, Wales and Scotland. Even though it is extremely tough on paper, Stimac has promised that he will give his all in order to help Croatia play at the 2014 World Cup in Brazil. “I believe we can look forward to better things and I will do everything in my power along with my staff to raise the level of our performances and results. We plan to improve things gradually and instil more confidence into the squad because we want to go to Brazil as contenders, not as also-rans,” he said.