Luka Modric and Mario Mandzukic headline Croatia World Cup provisional squad

The star pairing highlight a roster that Niko Kovac has infused with youth, including Dinamo Zagreb's 21-year-old keeper Oliver Zelenika.
Luka Modric made 33 appearances for Real Madrid in La Liga this season. Miguel Riopa / AFP
Luka Modric made 33 appearances for Real Madrid in La Liga this season. Miguel Riopa / AFP

Croatia coach Niko Kovac has found a blend of youth and experience for his provisional 30-man squad for the World Cup.

The Croatians will kick off the tournament on June 12 when they take on hosts Brazil in the opening match.

Apart from experienced stars like midfield magician Luka Modric of Real Madrid and Bayern Munich goal-man Mario Mandzukic, young players such as Dinamo Zagreb’s 21-year-old goalkeeper Oliver Zelenika, currently on loan at Lokomotiva, have also found a place in the squad.

“We have a grat mix of youth and experience,” said Kovac, 42, who took over the post seven months ago.

The final 23-man list will be announced after a friendly against Mali on May 31, the former Croatia captain told reporters.

“We are delighted to play at the World Cup. We have no imperatives, we will play the best we can,” he stressed.

“Brazil are the main favourites ... they have a great team and an experienced coach who already won the world title.”

The squad also includes Brazilian-born midfielder Sammir, a former Dinamo Zagreb key player, renowned for his off-the-field antics, who joined Spanish side Getafe this year.

“After he (Sammir) has left Dinamo he has been playing better and better, he is physically stronger, and we will see at preparations if he can do it even better,” Kovac said.

The Croatians will play their last World Cup warm-up match on June 6, against Australia, in Brazil.

Group A also includes Cameroon and Mexico.

Croatia’s best result at a World Cup was third place in 1998 in France, but they failed to qualify for South Africa in 2010.

Squad

Goalkeepers: Stipe Pletikosa (Rostov), Danijel Subasic (Monaco), Oliver Zelenika (Lokomotiva Zagreb)

Defenders: Darijo Srna (Shakhtar Donetsk), Domagoj Vida (Dynamo Kiev), Sime Vrsaljko (Genoa), Ivan Strinic (Dnipropetrovsk), Danijel Pranjic (Panathinaikos), Vedran Corluka (Lokomotiv Moscow), Dejan Lovren (Southampton), Gordon Schindelfeld (Panathinaikos), Igor Bubnjic (Udinese)

Midfielders: Luka Modric (Real Madrid), Ivan Rakitic (Sevilla), Mateo Kovacic (Inter Milan), Niko Kranjcar (QPR), Marcelo Brozovic (Dinamo Zagreb), Ognjen Vukojevic (Dynamo Kiev), Milan Badelj (Hamburg), Ivan Mocinic (Rijeka), Mario Pasalic (Hajduk Split), Sammir (Getafe)

Forwards: Mario Mandzukic (Bayern Munich), Nikica Jelavic (Hull), Ivica Olic (Wolfsburg), Eduardo Da Silva (Shakhtar Donetsk), Duje Cop (Dinamo Zagreb), Ivo Ilicevic (Hamburg), Ivan Perisic (Wolfsburg), Ante Rebic (Fiorentina)

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Published: May 14, 2014 04:00 AM

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