Croatia head coach Zlatko Dalic is hopeful that the World Cup third-place match will not be the last game in a major tournament for his captain, Luka Modric.
The 37-year-old Modric will sit out the next World Cup and Saturday’s bronze medal match against Morocco at the Khalifa International Stadium may not start yet.
But Dalic believes that the Real Madrid midfielder can continue playing until Euro 2024 in Germany, although it will be Modric’s own decision.
“I hope he’s with us,” he replied when asked about Modric’s chances of continuing his international career. “I look forward to that and I think it’s pretty sure he will be, but Luka Modric will also personally decide how he feels about it.
“Knowing how he feels about football and the Croatian national team, I’m pretty sure he’ll do it, but it’s just his decision.”
Dalic revealed that he is likely to make several changes for the match against Morocco, as Croatian midfielder Mateo Kovacic admitted that many players will be “exhausted” when they return to their clubs.
Although the likes of Modric, Josko Gvardiol and Marcelo Brozovic could be on the bench, Dalic was emphatic when asked what the match means for Croatia, a beaten World Cup finalist four years ago.
“For us, this is a great final, a great match and a fight for a medal,” he said.
“We have a lot of respect for the Moroccan team, which has achieved a lot in this tournament and is a real surprise.
“They are of the same mentality, it is a great game for them too, they come with a strong line-up and we are not thinking about what the rivals say because we know that they are fighting for the same place. and for both it is a great match.
“Morocco looks like us four years ago, no one expected them to go this far. They have deserved to be where they are, they have matured and developed and risen to a higher level with each game. They have become an energetic and self-motivated team.
“They are definitely the nicest and biggest surprise of this World Cup, speaking of teams that could have done better: Spain, Germany, Holland, England, Italy didn’t even qualify. This is a specific World Cup where two underdog nations play a playoff for third place.”
Qatari referee Abdulrahman Al Jassim will take charge of the third-place tiebreaker after also being in the middle of the Group B draw between Wales and the United States.
He will be joined by his Qatari assistants, but Dalic criticized the decision to appoint a local official, adding: “To be honest, I think FIFA has now taken a big risk.
“I’m not underestimating anyone, but I hope we’re not talking about the referee after tomorrow’s game.”
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