Emotional Modric badly wants to win in his 100th cap for Croatia

0 Comment(s)Print E-mail Xinhua, October 6, 2017
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by Gordan Gabrovec

RIJEKA, Oct. 5 (Xinhua) -- Luka Modric will celebrate his 100th cap as the captain of Croatian national football team on Friday, and he is eager to finish this emotional week as a winner.

"I hope this week will end in the best possible way and that this game will remain in good memory," Modric said at the press conference held on Thursday in the largest Croatian sea port Rijeka, just one day before the win-or-die clash with Finland.

That winning feeling is something that Croatian football stars lacked in recent months wearing the beloved red and white checkered jersey. In June they lost an ugly encounter at Iceland and one month ago Modric and company couldn't find the net in a narrow defeat in Turkey.

"It is important that we have talked to each other. We are aware of the expectations and we know what we have to do to make it to the World Cup. I hope we will show our fighting spirit in two matches ahead of us," Modric said.

With two matches to go in the European qualifiers for the 2018 World Cup in Russia, Croatia is still at the top of the Group I standings with 16 points, ahead of Iceland with goals difference and of Turkey and Ukraine by two points.

Croatian coach Ante Cacic is aware that the first part of the "Mission to Russia" will be a tough one.

"We are looking at the very demanding match with three points as an imperative. Finland is a solid defensive team and when they lose it's always a close game," Cacic said.

Even though he has to find replacements for injured defenders Vedran Corluka of Locomotive Moscow and Liverpool's Dejan Lovren, midfielders Mateo Kovacic (Real Madrid) and Milan Badelj (Fiorentina), as well as AC Milan striker Nikola Kalinic, Cacic is confident that he has a winning formula.

"If our players show their quality, I am sure we can beat Finland and Ukraine. I am sure that Croatia will finish as the leader of the group and earn its place at the 2018 World Cup."

Cacic didn't want to talk about the rising speculations that his days at the helm of the national team are numbered.

"I don't know where this pessimism comes from? Croatia played the best football among all the teams in our group. We lost at Iceland with the lucky goal and we were a better team in Turkey but didn't manage to score. I don't have any plans beside leading Croatia to Russia. This team deserves to be there and it will be." Enditem

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