Disappointing end of the World Cup for Croatia
ZAGREB, June 23 (Xinhua/Sun) -- Mexican wave came and washed away Croatian dreams of progressing into the second phase of the World Cup on Monday night in Recife.
In the end Mexico celebrated 3-1 victory that ended Croatian path in Brazil.
In the game of chess experienced Mexican coach Miguel Herrera proved to be better strategist than Croatian Niko Kovac, the youngest coach at the World Cup. It was the third time in a row that Croatians didn't manage to get the victory in the last group match and avoid elimination.
In 2002 Ecuador beat Croatia under Mirko Jozic and four year later in Germany it was Australians who stopped Croatian team led by coach Zlatko Kranjcar. Niko Kovac was aiming to become the first Croatian coach since Miroslav Blazevic to lead his team into the second phase of the World Cup, but failed to do so.
"In the first two matches we were good and we made our supporters happy. Unfortunately, we were not that good in the deciding match but we have to be happy with the fact that we played at the World Cup. Mexico was better today and they deserved to win," said Croatian coach Niko Kovac after the disappointing loss.
Kovac continued to rotate players the third player in the midfield. After Kovacic and Sammir, Pranjic got the chance to play with Modric and Rakitic behind his back. That option didn't pay off for Croatia because Pranjic didn't do much offensively and Mexicans were the most dangerous when they were attacking on the left side of Croatia's defense.
"Kovac's idea wasn't bad but the players didn't react like they should. Mexicans were better and deserved to go through," said Goran Vlaovic, the member of Croatian Golden Generation, the last that managed to pass the group stage at the World Cup.
"It would be wrong to put all the blame on one player but Kovac didn' t hit the right spot with Pranjic. He didn't get from him what he was looking for but we expected much more from Mandzukic and Olic in this match and they didn't deliver," said Robert Prosinecki, Vlaovic's teammate at the 1998 World Cup in France.
Rafa Marquez, Andres Guardado and Javier Hernandez were players who put the ball past Stipe Pletikosa and send him and his teammates home. Late goal by Perisic didn't mean anything, even though it was the best few moves of Croatian team in this match.
"Our focus was not there. We had enough strength but we didn't have good concentration. They scored two goals the way we wanted to score. Our goal came too late" , said Dejan Lovren, Croatia' s central defender.
Statistics showed that Croatia didn't shot on target until the 80th minute of the match in which Croatia had to win because draw would put Mexicans in the second phase and that can't be a good sign.
"They just didn't create any chances. It's a shame that they played the worst game when it was the most important. Croatia didn't play as we expected, as they were playing in the first two matches," Vlaovic said