Croatia 'ready' for France, says Dalic

2018-07-12 03:33:15 GMT2018-07-12 11:33:15(Beijing Time) Xinhua English

Croatia coach Zlatko Dalic said histeam faces a "daunting task" to beat France in the World Cup finalafter their 2-1 victory over England in extra time onWednesday.

Mario Mandzukic struck a dramatic 109th-minute goal at LuzhnikiStadium in Moscow after Ivan Perisic had cancelled out KieranTrippier's opener.

It was the third consecutive match that Croatia have won afterbeing forced into extra time. They prevailed in penalty shootoutsfollowing 120 minutes against Denmark in the round of 16 and Russiain the quarterfinals.

"This World Cup will be won by a team with character," Dalicsaid. "We were 1-0 down three games in a row and came back to wineach time. We have shown character. We are a nation of people whonever give in, who are proud and have character.

He added: "France are top-drawer. We are facing another dauntingtask but we are ready for it. I'm sure everybody will be lookingforward to it. I have huge respect for France."

They have had one more day to recover than us and we have hadthree games in a row that have gone to extra time. But we aren'tgoing to make excuses. We have to play as if it's the first game ofthe tournament."

Sunday's clash in Moscow will mark Croatia's first appearance inthe final of football's flagship event and comes 20 years afterthey finished third, which until now had been their best result inthe competition.

Dalic praised the attitude of his players against England, someof whom endured 120 minutes with "half a leg".

"What the players did today, the strength, energies levels, wasincredible," he said. "I wanted to make substitutions but nobodywould come off. I have to tip my hat to our medical staff anddoctors. Some players played with minor injuries today - ones thatwould rule them out of other games. Two played with half a leg. Butnobody wanted to be subbed and they didn't give in. That makes meproud."