Croatia coach Zlatko Dalic has insisted that his team will have enough energy left to face England in the World Cup semi final on Wednesday following another set of extra-time and penalties in their dramatic quarter final victory over Russia.
England secured their place in the last four – for the first time since 1990 – earlier in the day with a comfortable 2-0 victory over Sweden inside 90 minutes, while Croatia were taken all the way to penalties by Russia after already beating Denmark in a shootout in the previous round.
“Of course there is some power left for England,” Dalic said at the post-match press conference.
“We do not want to stop, we will try to play our best game [against England]. We are very motivated and will give our all. It will be a battle again, but I trust us and I have belief in us.”
It is the first time that Croatia have reached this stage of the World Cup since the golden generation of Davor Suker and Zvonimir Boban managed the feat in 1998.
After taking an extra-time lead when Domagoj Vida scored just the third goal of his lengthy international career, Croatia could have been looking at a penalty shootout exit when Mario Fernandes found a dramatic late equaliser for Russia.
But it was the Croatians who held their nerve from 12 yards, with Fernandes ironically missing the crucial kick for Russia that later gave Ivan Rakitic the chance to win it.
“This was not a beautiful game, but it was a fight,” Dalic commented.
“We were lucky, thank God, and I was concentrated throughout the match, but after the penalties it came bursting out of me.
“I felt really relieved. We made ourselves happy, but we also made everyone back home in Croatia happy. Those emotions burst out of me. I don’t cry often, but now I have a good cause.”