Kovac says Croatia proud to meet Brazil at opening match

19 February 2014 11:47

Croatia coach Niko Kovac said on Wednesday he was proud that his team was to play the 2014 World Cup finals opening match with the host Brazil and pledged their best performance.

"Immediately afer the draw we said that opening of the World Cup is a privilege and an honour for every team," Kovac told reporters.

He spoke in Florianópolis, Brazil, where he was attending along with other coaches of teams that qualified for the World Cup a FIFA-run workshop.

"We are proud to take part in that match (against Brazil), a great atmosphere is awaiting us and we will provide our maximum to present Croatia to the world in the best of light," Kovac said.

He stressed that at the opening match, to be played at Sao Paolo on June 12, "Brazil will have a big support, not only at stadium but also from 200 million people in front of their televisions.

"But at the same time it is a pressure for the host which could be our advantage."

Croatia, whom their fans call "The Fiery Ones" ("Vatreni"), have been drawn in Group A, along with Brazil, Cameroon and Mexico.

"Brazil are not only the favourite of our group but of the whole tournament, while Croatia, Mexico and Cameroon will fight for the second place which leads further," Kovac said.

"These are strong teams which have their good and bad sides, we analysed them thoroughly and we will prepare well," the 42-year-old former Croatia captain added.

Croatia's best result at a World Cup was third place in 1998 in France, but they missed out on the last edition in South Africa.

Source: AFP