Will solve defensive issues in Corluka, Vrsaljko absence: Croatia coach

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Zagrb, March 20 (IANS) Croatia’s football team will miss two important defenders Vedran Corluka and Sime Vrsaljko but head coach Ante Cacic isn’t showing any signs of panic ahead of the 2018 World Cup qualifying clash with Ukraine here on Friday.

Corluka, 31, got injured during the weekend playing for his Lokomotiv Moscow club in the Russian Premier League, while Vrsaljko, 25, of Atletico Madrid had to be carried off the pitch with partial tear of cruciate ligament in his left knee during the La Liga match against Sevilla on Sunday, reports Xinhua news agency.

‘Both of them would have been in the starting 11 against Ukraine but I will not call any additional players for the training camp. We have enough players on the list that can take places of those two,’ Cacic said on Monday at the beginning of the preparation for the match against Ukraine on Friday at the Maksimir Stadium.

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Cacic didn’t want to name the players that would have to take responsible defensive roles. But there is a general feeling among the members of Croatian press that 21-year-old Tin Jedvaj of Bayer Leverkusen would fill the right back position and 23-year-old Matej Mitrovic from Turkish side Besiktas would serve as a substitute for injured Corluka.

‘I will come up with the solution through practices. I have to see how will the players react,’ Cacic said.

The coach also dismissed an idea to recall 34-year-old former captain Darijo Srna who announced his international retirement after 2016 Euro in France but still serves as the skipper of record Ukrainian champions Shakhtar Donetsk.

‘Srna’s retirement was premature but I want to focus on the players that are available,’ he said.

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Srna’s insight into the Ukrainian side could still be valuable to Cacic as he prepares the team to extend its four-year unbeaten run at the Maksimir Stadium on Friday.

‘Ukraine has a good, compact team. They have strong defenders and very dangerous wingers but my team will not ask for excuses,’ said Cacic.

Cacic will be guiding the team in the qualifying match at home for the first time with Croatian supporters present in the stands after Croatian Football Federation served the three-match ban for its fans’ misconduct.

‘Finally, we will be able to feel the love that Croatian people share with this team. I believe they will help us get this important win,’ he said.



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