Nigeria Foes Croatia Name Star-Studded 32-Man World Cup Provisional Squad

Croatia coach Zlatko Dalic on Monday named Luka Modric, Ivan Rakitic and Mario Mandzukic in his 32-man provisional squad for

croatia-

Croatia coach Zlatko Dalic on Monday named Luka Modric, Ivan Rakitic and Mario Mandzukic in his 32-man provisional squad for the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia, reports Completesportsnigeria.com.

The provisional squad list was announced through the official Twitter handle of the Croatia  Football Federation.

The Croatian will face Nigeria, Iceland and Argentina in the group stage of the Russia 2018 World Cup.

Dalic named four goalkeepers, 12 defenders, eight midfielders and eight forwards to compete for places in the final 23-man squad for the Mundial.

Also included in the squad are Mateo Kovacic from Real Madrid, Ivan Rakitic from Barcelona and Sime Vrsalijko from Atletico Madrid.

Also called up are the likes of Ivan Perisic, Nikola Kalinic, Marko Rog, Milan Badelj, Ivan Strinic from the Italian Serie A.

Croatia will face Nigeria in their opening Group D game before battling Argentina and Iceland.

6

The post appeared first on Complete Sports Nigeria.

Onazi: Super Eagles Not Afraid Of Croatia’s Modric, Rakitic, Kovacic

By Johnny Edward: Trabzonspor midfielder Ogenyi Onazi has stated that the Super Eagles will not be fazed when they take

By Johnny Edward:

Trabzonspor midfielder Ogenyi Onazi has stated that the Super Eagles will not be fazed when they take on the star-studded Croatian team in their opening game at the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia, Completesportsnigeria.com reports.

The Croatian team have in their ranks the duo of Luka Modric and Mateo Kovacic from Real Madrid and Barcelona’s Ivan Rakitic who have been in impressive form for their respective teams.

“The fact that we will face top players like those you mentioned will give us more zeal to go for a win,” Onazi told CSN.

“We have a great team that can stop them so we won’t fret over the names of their influential players. Their biggest strength lies in their midfield and I believe that as a team we will stop them.”

The former Lazio of Italy midfielder added that he is looking forward to the Super Eagles pre-World Cup friendlies.

“We have three friendlies to play before our first game and I’m confident we will be in top shape for the opening game which is a must win for us,” Onazi said.

Onazi will be making his second appearance at the World Cup finals if he is included in Nigeria’s final 23-man squad to Russia.

Nigeria are drawn alongside Croatia, Iceland and Argentina in Russia.

The post Onazi: Super Eagles Not Afraid Of Croatia’s Modric, Rakitic, Kovacic appeared first on Complete Sports Nigeria.

Juventus Set To Offload Croatia Striker Mandzukic

Serie A giants Juventus are reportedly eager to sell Croatia striker Mario Mandzukic, but have received no genuine offers. The

Serie A giants Juventus are reportedly eager to sell Croatia striker Mario Mandzukic, but have received no genuine offers.

The striker turns 32 later this month and is under contract until June 2020, having extended the deal a year ago.

This season, Mandzukic has scored 10 goals and four assists in 41 competitive games.

But according to football-italia.net, Mandzukic has become increasingly frustrated at being used out on the left wing and not as a centre-forward, where he moved to make way for Gonzalo Higuain.

And it is believed Juventus have asked three different intermediaries to find Mandzukic a new club, but so far there are no real offers.

Milan were reported to be interested in a bid for the former Bayern Munich and Atletico Madrid star.

Mandzukic is expected to be part of Croatia’s 23-man squad that will feature at this year’s FIFA World Cup in Russia.

They are drawn in Group D with Argentina, Nigeria and Iceland.

The post appeared first on Complete Sports Nigeria.

Rohr Wary Of El Clásico Croatians Modric, Rakitic, Kovacic

Super Eagles manager Gernot Rohr is wary of the threat the Real Madrid duo of Luka Modrid and Mateo Kovacic as

Super Eagles manager Gernot Rohr is wary of the threat the Real Madrid duo of Luka Modrid and Mateo Kovacic as well as Barcelona’s Ivan Rakitic will pose when the

Super Eagles play the Vatreni of Croatia in their opening 2018 FIFA World Cup game on June 16 at the 35,000 capacity Kaliningrad Stadium in Kaliningrad, Russia.

Rohr believes the three players are the pivot on which coach Zlatko Dalic has built his team on and the Nigeria boss sees that as a clear and considerable area of strength. The Nigeria boss stresses that his Super Eagles must be set up in their opening match to combat “one of the best midfields”  in the competition. If fit, Modric, Rakitic and Kovacic look likely to form a formidable triumvirate in central midfield for Croatia at Russia  2018. Add in competition for places from the likes of Fiorentina’s Milan Badelj and Inter Milan’s Marcelo Brozovic, and it is no wonder that this department of Dalic’s team is held in such high regard.

Dalic believes Modric gives the team the fuel to perform on the field.

The coach said: “He is our best player – he’s the engine that makes us go. He’s also a captain who leads by example. He always gives his maximum, he sets high standards with his attitude, aggression and energy on the pitch, and with his behaviour off it.

”While Rakitic has an incredible season in the LaLiga, helping Barcelona set an unbeaten run in the 35 games the has played so far this term, Kovacic is described as the future of the Croatia team, described as an incredible talent.”

The post appeared first on Complete Sports Nigeria.

Croatia Coach Dalic: We Must Be At Our Best In Tough World Cup Group

Croatia coach Zlatko Dalic has challenged his players to rise to the challenge of a tough Russia 2018 World Cup

croatia-dalic

Croatia coach Zlatko Dalic has challenged his players to rise to the challenge of a tough Russia 2018 World Cup group and surpass the feat of their predecessors who finished third on the country’s debut at France 1998.

Since their impressive performance at the 1998 World Cup with players like Davor Šuker, Zvonimir Boban, Robert Prosinečki and Slaven Bilić, Croatia were eliminated at the group stages at Korea/Japan 2002, Germany 2006 and Brazil 2014 and failed to qualify for the South Africa 2010 World Cup.

And looking forward to this year’s edition, Dalic said his star-studded side must prove themselves in Russia.

“I have to say what is good and what is not,” Dalic told Dnevnik Nova TV monitored by FIFA.com. “Croatia haven’t done well in a World Cup since France 1998, and going on our quality, we should have.

“We have a brilliant generation of players who, like me, have to know that we can’t live on past glory. Ahead of us is the World Cup, and we have to be at our best there.”

Croatia are drawn in Group D with Nigeria, two-time champions Argentina and debutants Iceland. Examining the group, Dalic stated he is excited Croatia will be facing very tough opponents.

“I’ve always said I wanted tough matches and tough opponents, and we can only progress as a team by playing against top sides and [learning from] our mistakes,” said Dalic. “We don’t need weaker opponents. Perhaps it’s risky of me to feel this way, but I wouldn’t have it any other way.”

He expressed delight that three of his players Dejan Lovren (Liverpool), Luka Modric and Mateo Kovacic (both for Real Madrid) will be in the final of this season’s UEFA Champions League.

“I’m very proud that Croatia has three players in the Champions League final, which proves our quality,” said the 51-year-old. “They won’t be tired and will come to Russia full of confidence and motivation.”

And on his squad for the 2018 World Cup, the former midfielder said: “This week we will define a larger squad, and it will comprise players who have spent the last two-three years in the national team. There will be no big surprises.

“We have great players and a great generation, and we have to believe in this generation at the World Cup. They got us there and we should give them a chance.

“I’m looking forward to seeing a group of youngsters who are the future of Croatian football. But we will introduce them in the [UEFA] Nations League in the autumn to give them the chance to show their quality. It will be best for [Borno] Sosa, [Filip] Benkovic, [Duje] Caleta-Car, [Nikola] Vlasic, [Ante] Rebic to enter a new cycle for the EURO 2020 qualifiers and the Nations League.”

The post appeared first on Complete Sports Nigeria.

Kanu: Good Result Vs Croatia Crucial To Eagles’ Progress At Russia 2018

By Bamidele Boluwaji: Former Nigeria captain, Nwankwo Kanu, has urged Super Eagles to get ready with fine form  ahead of

By Bamidele Boluwaji:

Former Nigeria captain, Nwankwo Kanu, has urged Super Eagles to get ready with fine form  ahead of their first game against Croatia at the 2018 FIFA World Cup, warning that the match is as important as the final to Nigeria, 
Completesportsnigeria.com (CSN)   reports.

The former Arsenal forward who has organised a five day basketball clinic which started on May 5 for Nigerian youths, says beating Croatia should be the Super Eagles’ priority.

According to Kanu,  victory in the match will give the Super Eagles confidence to face Iceland and Argentina in their subsequent games.

“The World Cup is fast approaching and soon everyone of us will be busy watching games and that is the joy of the tournament,”  the former Super Eagles captain told 
CSN.

caf-nigeria-super eagles-world cup

“We have to be very serious with the first game which is against Croatia and that is why I will urge our strikers to make sure they play aggressively to score goals and win the match. It is the first game but it should be taken as the final of the World Cup. If you start a tournament with victory, you will have confidence to play other games.

“I believe we have the players that can make it possible but they have to believe in themselves and also go for it. We can beat any team if we really give our best.

“None of the teams in our group is unbeatable and I hope the players will prepare their minds towards that” concludes Kanu.”

Nigeria will play Croatia on 
June 16 at the Kaliningrad Stadium, do battle with Iceland on 
June 22 at Volgograd Arena before facing Argentina on 
June 26 at Krestovsky Stadium Saint Petersburg in their last group game.

The post Kanu: Good Result Vs Croatia Crucial To Eagles’ Progress At Russia 2018 appeared first on Complete Sports Nigeria.

5 Eagles’ World Cup Foes Battling To Overcome Injury Setback

Completesportsnigeria.com’s ADEBOYE AMOSU highlights five players from Nigeria’s 2018 World Cup Group D foes who are battling to be fit

Completesportsnigeria.com’s ADEBOYE AMOSU highlights five players from Nigeria’s 2018 World Cup Group D foes who are battling to be fit for the finals in Russia.

GYLFIL SIGURDSSON (ICELAND)

The Everton midfielder is undeniably one of the best talents at Heimir Hallgrimsson’s disposal, but a knee injury in March has cast serious doubts over his availability for Iceland at the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia.

The 28-year-old however remains optimistic that he will be back to full fitness in time, but history has shown that knee injuries can be particularly problematic.

LUCAS BIGLIA (ARGENTINA)

The midfielder who plays for Italian giants, AC Milan, faces a race against time to be fit for the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia after suffering a slight lumbar fracture in his back in a league game against Benevento last week.
Biglia , who is a key member of Jorge Sampaoli’s side, has been ruled out of action for at least six weeks.

Sampaoli is already considering
Stuttgart midfielder Santiago Ascacibar as a replacement in case Biglia fails to shake off the injury before the World Cup.

SERGIO AGUERO (ARGENTINA)

Sergio Aguero underwent a minor knee surgery last week after failing to overcome an injury picked up in training with Manchester City last month.

The 29-year-old has not started a game for Manchester City since the 1-0 win against Chelsea on March 4.

The forward has suffered swelling of the knee as he has worked on his recovery, prompting City to send him for exploratory surgery to determine the full nature of the problem, which is believed to be meniscus damage.

Arthroscopy has a quicker healing time than other types of surgery, but Aguero could still face up to a month out of action – meaning he would effectively be ruled out for the rest of the season.

Inter Milan striker Mauro Icardi has been mooted as a replacement for him should he fail to recover fully from the injury before the World Cup.

SERGIO ROMERO (ARGENTINA)

The Manchester United goalkeeper was forced to withdraw after just 22 minutes of Argentina’s friendly loss to Spain last month.
The 31-year-old clashed with Diego Costa as the forward scored Spain’s first goal in the 6-1 victory.
He has not made a match-day squad for United since the injury with no date set for his return.

VEDRAN CORLUKA (CROATIA)

The centre-back who have been plagued by injuries for most of his career was substituted in the 89th minute in his Russian club, Locomotive Moscow’s league clash against Ufa last Sunday.

With no news yet on his return date, Croatia coach Zlatko Dalic will hope he recover in time to be fit for the mundial.

Corluka missed most of last year with an Achilles tendon injury.

The post 5 Eagles’ World Cup Foes Battling To Overcome Injury Setback appeared first on Complete Sports Nigeria.

Ndidi: Why Eagles Must Beat Croatia, Iceland; Messi Is Unstoppable

By Dare Esan: Nigeria midfielder Wilfred Ndidi believes the Super Eagles key to qualifying for the second round of the

By Dare Esan:

Nigeria midfielder Wilfred Ndidi believes the Super Eagles key to qualifying for the second round of the Russia 2018 FIFA

World Cup will be to win their opening two games against Croatia on 
June 16 and Iceland on 
June 22.

Ndidi told FIFA World Cup Russia Magazine the team’s final game against Argentina in Saint Petersburg on 
June 26 will be a very tough one especially with the expected presence of Barcelona star,Lionel Messi in the team.

”Argentina team is very good, for me I will say Messi is unstoppable. He is the best player in the world,” said Ndidi.

Argentina have won all four games against Nigeria at the FIFA World Cup since the two teams first met in 1994 when Nigeria made her debut.

The Albisceleste won the first meeting 2-1 on June 25,1994 at the Foxboro Stadium in Foxborough, Massachusetts, United States. Nigeria lost again, this time 1-0 on June 2,2002 at the Kashima Soccer Stadium in Ibaraki,Japan and succumbed to another 1-0 loss 
eight years later,precisely on 
June 12 at the Ellis Park Stadium in Johannesburg,South Africa.

Four years, the Eagles, led by Stephen Keshi (now late), lost 3-2 to Argentina with a Marcos Rojo winner after Ahmed had twice restored parity after Messi two goals.

The post appeared first on Complete Sports Nigeria.

Eguaveon: Win Vs Croatia Crucial To Super Eagles’ Progress In Russia

By Adeboye Amosu:                                   

By Adeboye Amosu:                                                                                                                                                                                              Former Super Eagles head coach, Augustine Eguaveon, says the team must strive to beat Croatia in their opening group game at the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia to boost their chances of making it to the second round, reports Completesportsnigeria.com.

Gernot Rohr’s men will face the Croats who were semi-finalists at the 1998 World Cup finals in France on June 16 in Kaliningrad.

Debutants Iceland and two-time world champions Argentina who will be led by Barcelona star Lionel Messi are the other teams in  Group D.

Eguaveon, who was a member of the Super Eagles squad at the 1994 FIFA World Cup in the United States of America reckons that it is important that the team start their campaign on a positive note at the mundial.

“The game against Croatia will no doubt be a  crucial one for the Super Eagles in Russia. They need to win the game to make things easy for  themselves in the competition,” Eguaveon told CSN.

“Iceland are not as strong as Croatia and Argentina, but I strongly believe they won’t be an easy opposition.

“Argentina, we know are one of the favourites to win the competition with a lot of top quality stars including Lionel Messi.

“The task before the team is a tough one, but if they can beat Croatia in the first game, then they have a big chance of advancing into the next round.”

The post Eguaveon: Win Vs Croatia Crucial To Super Eagles’ Progress In Russia appeared first on Complete Sports Nigeria.

Super Eagles World Cup Foes Croatia To Face Brazil In Friendly

Nigeria’s Russia 2018 World Cup group opponents Croatia will play Brazil in a friendly at Anfield on 3 June, Liverpool

Nigeria’s Russia 2018 World Cup group opponents Croatia will play Brazil in a friendly at Anfield on 3 June, Liverpool have confirmed.

The match will kick off at 3pm. The game is part of both teams’ preparations for the World Cup later in June.

“Brazil is the most attractive team in the world, and it makes me proud that the Croatian Football Federation has managed to agree this spectacular match in Liverpool,” Croatia FA President Davor Suker was quoted on Liverpool’s official website.

“We are especially looking forward to enjoying the atmosphere at Anfield, where Croatia has never played before – it’s a historic venue and I am convinced that our players will enjoy this match, along with our fans and all spectators. A match between two great sides such as Brazil and Croatia is surely worthy of such an iconic stadium.”

Croatia will face Nigeria, Argentina and Iceland in Group D while Brazil will battle Switzerland, Costa Rica and Serbia in Group E in Russia.

Meanwhile, tickets for the highly anticipated friendly will be available from £30 (about N15,510) for adults with all U16 tickets at £10 (N5,170) via Liverpoolfc.com.