Croatia preparing for bruising decider - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Croatia preparing for bruising decider

By Philip Blenkinsop 20/06/2006 12:38:54 AM Comments (0)

Croatia are preparing for a bruising final game against Australia on Thursday, a match they have to win to have a hope of qualifying for the last 16.

Striker Dado Prso could be key to the side's success, given his experience in the combative Scottish premiership with Rangers, although coach Zlatko Kranjcar insisted he had other players who could mix it with their tough opponents.

"He's not the only physically powerful player. There is Simic, Kovac and Tudor," Kranjcar told reporters after Croatia's 0-0 draw with Japan, while insisting that his side would not change for the last match.

"Prso is very close to the Australian style. I think he developed his play at Rangers this year, but we will play the same game. We will try to organise the game, break away from the side and then get good crosses in," the coach said.

Croatia will certainly be hoping it is third time lucky in the group phase.

They had a number of chances to draw level with Brazil in their opening 1-0 defeat and had the upper hand against Japan, hitting the crossbar and having a penalty well saved by Japan's keeper.

They have not scored a goal in the World Cup finals since a 2-1 victory over Italy in June 2002.

Croatia's squad are trying to remain upbeat, although the mood was clearly less upbeat than after the Brazil match, after which their fans lit flares and cheered the team's rousing performance.

"We said before we need four points to go on," striker Klasnic said.

Brazil lead Group F after two wins, Australia have three points, after their 3-1 defeat of Japan, while Croatia and Japan have just one point each from two matches.

"We are happy with the performance, but not with the results ... We have won many important games in qualifying," said defender Josip Simunic.

They have indeed, beating Sweden both home and away, converting a penalty in the second match to leapfrog their rivals at the top of the group.

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