Igor Stimac urges Croatia to ‘break tradition’

Croatia's Coach Igor Stimac. Picture: AFP/Getty
Croatia's Coach Igor Stimac. Picture: AFP/Getty
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Croatia coach Igor Stimac intends to rewrite the history books tonight by claiming a first victory over Scotland.

The three previous meetings between the two nations have all ended in draws. But Stimac has warned the Scots he will not allow them to return home with any points from this evening’s World Cup qualifier in Zagreb.

He said: “We are ready for the game. I know it’s not an easy job for Gordon Strachan but we are going to make it even more difficult. There are no easy games. You have to earn it on the pitch.

“We are very serious about this game. We must not think that it’s going to be easy. The Scottish team is a dangerous one.

“But I will not allow you to take points from here. I will do all necessary. We have never won a game against Scotland. Tradition is not on our side but we have to break it tomorrow.”

Scotland travelled to Zagreb with a squad weakened by seven call-offs, meaning there will be an element of the unknown about their team selection.

Stimac said: “We are expecting many changes in their team. Any analysis from past games is useless. We are concentrating on our game and our players. I suppose they will try to defend themselves and do counter-
attacks. We will see.”

Croatia sit fourth in the world rankings, while the Scots are 74th spot. Stimac admitted he could not explain why Scotland have fallen so far in recent years, having been as high as 13th in October 2007. “I don’t know what went wrong,” he said. “You have two big clubs, Rangers and Celtic. Big tradition, nice style of playing football. Great supporters. Something went wrong but I’m not in it enough to tell you what went wrong.”

Looking ahead to the game, skipper Darijo Srna added: “There is major pressure because Croatia are first in the group. We respect them and we respect their coach but there will be a lot of people in the stadium and everybody expects three points.”