Zlatko Dalic confident Croatia will deal with great expectations against Nigeria

The Croatians are favourites to start life in Group D with a win on Saturday and the former Al Ain manager expects his side to be up to the task in Kaliningrad

epa06811183 Croatian coach Zlatko Dalic during a training session of the Croatian team at the Kaliningrad Stadium in Kaliningrad, Russia, 15 June 2018. Croatia will face Nigeria in a group D match of the FIFA World Cup 2018 on 16 June 2018  EPA/MARTIN DIVISEK   EDITORIAL USE ONLY

Former Al Ain manager Zlatko Dalic heralded the balance of his Croatia squad as he gets set to make his World Cup bow against Nigeria on Saturday.

The Croat, who led the Garden City club for three years until February last year, takes his national team into their Group D opener against Nigeria at the Kaliningrad Stadium in Kaliningrad.

Dalic is seeking to guide Croatia in Russia to the knockout stages for the first time since the 1998 World Cup, when their vaunted side made their debut as an independent country. They went on to finish third in France.

This time, Croatia have been given a testing group, with Argentina and Iceland to come after Nigeria.


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However, Dalic is confident he has the perfect blend among his 23 players to live up to their heightened billing back home.

"We have a very good set of players who are the driving forces of big clubs and young players; it's a good mixture of youth and experience," he told the media on Friday.

"It is right that expectations are high and we expect from ourselves more than anybody else.

"I hope we will prove all those flattering descriptions right and that this generation will get a result with some luck along the way. We are full of self-belief and ready to show some good football."

Speaking about dealing with expectation against Nigeria - Croatia go into the match as favourites - Dalic said: "We have our own style: we play possession football, we are offensive and we won't give that up to adapt to Nigeria.

"I believe in our players and I don't want to limit their creativity. It is our biggest advantage."

Captain Luka Modric, sitting alongside Dalic, added: "If we go through the group stage, then everything is possible."