MARIO Mandzukic says Croatia are still hurting from their shock loss to Scotland in June and the Bayern Munich striker insists they will take their anger out on Serbia tonight.
Mandzukic played in the Zagreb clash as Robert Snograss’s first-half effort was enough to clinch Scotland’s first World Cup qualifying Group A win, which put a huge dent in the Croatians’ bid to catch group leaders Belgium. Mandzukic said: “The match is a great opportunity to make amends for the blunder against the Scots. I’ve got a good feeling. We will do our utmost to finish with a positive result.
Relations between Croatia and Serbia have remained strained since the war of independence in the 1990s and Mandzukic, who scored in the 2-0 win over Serbia in March, is bracing himself for a frosty welcome in Belgrade.
He said: “It will certainly be a hot atmosphere in a full stadium, which creates greater Serbia pressure. This is a good thing for us. In Zagreb it was reversed and I know what a burden it is.”
Serbia coach Sinisa Mihajlovic has yet to give up on qualification but Croatia are nine points clear of his side as they meet in Belgrade for only the second time since Yugoslavia split.
Serbia lost 2-0 in Zagreb and are now rank outsiders to challenge Croatia and Belgium for the top two places in Group A but Mihajlovic is not prepared to give up hope as he sets up his team for what he concedes is a difficult challenge.
“I will fight until the last whistle,” Mihajlovic said. “We know how to play and the less we are interested in how the Croats are going to play, the better.”