After Croatia’s win over Morocco in the play-off, Zlatko Dlic said that Croatia’s third-place finish at the World Cup had a “golden” layer.
Dalic’s team finished runners-up to France in 2004 and have since established their position as one of the most elite footballing nations. They also secured a third-place finish in their 1998 competition debut.
After a fast opening, Josko Gudiol took the lead for Croatia on seven minutes. He dived beautifully and gave Croatia the lead. Achraf Dari equalized just two minutes later when he nodded home from close range.
Mislav Orsic poured in a sublime second for Croatia via post three minutes before the half-time break and hit a deflected, thumping drive into the sidenetting after the break.
The second period was less energetic than the opening and Morocco was unable to find an equaliser. This led to a disappointing campaign that ended in two defeats.
Dalic stated that they won the bronze medal with a golden layer. It’s almost as if we won the gold medal tonight.
“Fighting for third place and losing would be a disaster. This is the final stage of a cycle and the end to a journey. These are the goals of my players.
Modric makes Croatia tick again
This is the game that no team wants to play in, but Croatia, a country of less than four million people, will be extremely satisfied with another stellar performance on the global stage.
The team’s heart is headed by Luka Modric (37 years old, 162nd cap), though it could be his last appearance at a World Cup.
Dalic said, “This World Cup is the last World Cup for many of my players because they are old.” “But we have young players and there is great hope for Croatia. There are many young players in the team. They feel more confident when they are with their older teammates.
“Croatia doesn’t have anything to fear for the future. Are we witnessing the end of an era here? I don’t believe so. We have the Nations League and European Championship 2024. Croatia has a bright future.
Croatia’s opening was straight off the training field, Ivan Perisic landing a free kick, which was grabbed by Gvardiol’s amazing finish. The Croatian team flew into the corner.
Morocco won the match with Dari who converted from a few yards and caused a frenzy in the stands.
Bilal El Khannouss, a teenager midfielder, made his debut in Morocco at 18 and showed confidence. However, he was guilty of Croatia’s second goal. He gave the ball away from his own half, and eventually surrendered victory.
Orsic received the ball from Marko Livaja. Orsic made a magnificent first-time finish that beat Yassine Bounou, the goalkeeper, and into the net via his post.
Morocco’s best chance of equalizing was with Youssefen Nesyri, the Sevilla striker. Dominik Livakovic, knockout round penalty winner, made a great save from close range. The goal went through injury time.
Walid Regragui’s team became the first African side in the semi-finals. Their passionate players and fans have lit up the tournament.
They were accompanied by their followers who sang and beat their drums throughout the game. Despite being defeated in the final four by France and Croatia, they will cherish their tournament achievements with fond memories.
Regragui stated that although doubts existed in everyone’s minds before the tournament, they were not unfounded. “We have done more than we expected, and it is not enough. This must be a model for the future.
“It is touching to see children’s pictures because football inspires people to dream. We have made it possible for children to dream.
“Children from Morocco and all over the world dream of winning World Cup, and that is more important to me than any game at World Cup.
“We are proud of our accomplishments, but we still want to achieve it again.” If we can reach the semi-finals and quarter finals every day, we will one day win the World Cup.
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