Croatian coach criticises players despite 5-1 win

” With first two teams in the group earning direct qualifying, it’s safe to say that Croatia are very close to the spot in the final tournament in France.”

Zagreb, March 29(IANS):  It is a rare occasion that you hear a football coach being critical about his team’s performance when he is on the winning side, especially with a 5-1 victory.

Most coaches would glorify the efficiency of his players and enjoy the moment, but Crotian’s Niko Kovac is not that kind of a coach or that kind of a person, reports Xinhua.

Yes, I can say I am satisfied with the win and three points that we earned against very good team. That was the plan before the game and we managed to achieve what we wanted, said Kovac here on Saturday after Croatia’s convincing 5-1 win against Norway in Euro qualifier.

But, I am not satisfied with the way how the team played, especially in the first 30 minutes of the match. My players were not aggressive enough. They did not play as a team and when they don’t play this way they are not strong enough.

I don’t want to take anything away from Norway because they are a very good team. But if we would play like this against stronger opponents, we would end up losing a match in the first 30 minutes, Kovac added.

I know that this may sound as I am too picky but we have to play better than this and I expect from my players to be better in the next match against Italy.

However, there was a player in Kovac’s squad that was excluded from criticism.

I think that our goalkeeper Danijel Subasic was the man-of-the-match. He deserved the highest grade for his performance and that shows you why I can’t be satisfied with the rest of the team, Kovac said.

If we win 5-1 and our goalkeeper is the best player in the team there is something wrong.

There was a general feeling that Norway deserved a better result with the performance they put on at the Maksimir Stadium.

The result is always realistic. We made Croatian players to be effective. However, I thought we had a good plan and we were good in the beginning, Norwegian coach Per-Mathias Hogmo said.

We had a ball in our possession and controlled a game. But, it’s not a good feeling losing 5-1.

We have nine points and we will play three out of remaining five matches at home. I think we still have very good chance to qualify.

In the end there were a few positives that Kovac found about his team, too.

We had five different scorers in the match so that means that we are dangerous from all positions. We scored 15 goals in five matches and conceded only two. We want to play attacking and attractive football but we have to think about how we will defend, as well.

After the first half of the qualifying behind them, Croatia seat on top of the table in Group H with 13 points in five matches.

With first two teams in the group earning direct qualifying, it’s safe to say that Croatia are very close to the spot in the final tournament in France.

I can say that we are close but we are not there yet and until we qualify I will not say that our job is done.

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