Croatia coach Dalic extends contract through 2026 World Cup

By Sports Desk March 18, 2023

Zlatko Dalic has been rewarded for Croatia's third-place finish at the 2022 World Cup with a new contract that runs through the 2026 edition.

Initially appointed on a short-term deal in 2017, Dalic has proven highly successful in the role.

He first secured qualification for the 2018 World Cup, which earned him a full-time contract, and then led Croatia's 'golden generation' all the way to the final before a 4-2 defeat to France.

But arguably more impressive was their run to the World Cup semi-finals in Qatar last year, going deep into the tournament despite a perception of their squad being significantly less talented than four years earlier.

Croatia's hopes of lifting the trophy were ended by eventual winners Argentina, though their 2-1 win over Morocco in an entertaining third-place play-off ensured they went home with the bronze medal.

"Zlatko Dalic absolutely fulfilled all of the goals that were set before him in these five and a half years, and at the same time he signed two magnificent achievements at the World Cup in Russia and Qatar and led Croatia to silver and bronze medals, thus becoming our most successful coach in history," Croatian Football Federation president Marijan Kustic said.

"Therefore, I am extremely pleased that we have agreed on the continuation of the cooperation that has been absolutely brilliant so far."

Dalic added: "I have pointed out many times that this job is the greatest honour and the greatest pleasure I can have as a coach, and I am truly looking forward to the future with the Croatian national team.

"Regardless of the wonderful successes we have already achieved, I have great passion and ambition to continue working with Croatia and I believe that there are still many great challenges ahead."

Dalic will now hope to make a strong start to Euro 2024 qualification when Croatia face Wales and Turkey later this month, before turning their attention to the Nations League finals – they face Netherlands in the semi-finals in June.

Related items

  • Simeone concedes 'it is not easy' for Atletico to compete with Madrid Simeone concedes 'it is not easy' for Atletico to compete with Madrid

    Diego Simeone believes Atletico Madrid have fallen short of their objectives this season, but conceded it is difficult to compete with the "best team in the world" in Real Madrid.

    Although they are set for a fourth-place finish in LaLiga, Los Rojiblancos are 21 points adrift of Carlo Ancelotti's newly crowned champions. 

    Atleti fell to Borussia Dortmund following a 5-4 aggregate defeat in the Champions League quarter-finals, while they were soundly beaten by Athletic Club in the Copa del Rey semi-finals.

    And as a third successive trophyless season comes to pass at the Metropolitano Stadium, Simeone admits his side could have done better.

    "We have the responsibility to get into the Champions League every year. You can be left out, but you can also be champions," he told reporters ahead of Atletico's final LaLiga game of the campaign against Real Sociedad.

    "But with Real Madrid, who are the best team in the world and will continue to be because they have rejuvenated the squad, it is not easy.

    "We have to keep working at 120 per cent because 100 per cent is not enough, and 80 per cent is even less to be able to get closer to them, keeping in mind that those below us are also improving.

    "We were close to the Copa del Rey final and were expecting to reach the semi-finals of the Champions League. We created the illusion of being in a possible final, and we weren't able to do it, so now we have to think about what comes next to improve things.

    "I have had players who have allowed me to compete as we have done since I arrived, and a coaching staff where everyone who has walked this path has given maximum effort. There is always room for improvement and growth."

  • Under-pressure Ten Hag claims Ratcliffe wants him to stay at Man Utd Under-pressure Ten Hag claims Ratcliffe wants him to stay at Man Utd

    Erik ten Hag has claimed Manchester United's new part-owner Jim Ratcliffe has told him he wants the Dutchman to stay at Old Trafford.

    Reports on Friday suggested Ratcliffe, who now runs the footballing operations at United following INEOS' 27.7 per cent purchase of the club, had decided to sack Ten Hag regardless of the result of Saturday's FA Cup final, with the Red Devils taking on Manchester City.

    United finished eighth, their worst-ever Premier League finish, this season, with Ten Hag under increasing scrutiny.

    However, while hitting out at his critics in an interview with Dutch publication Voetbal International, Ten Hag claimed to have the backing of INEOS.

    "INEOS told me that they want to change everything and that they want to rebuild with me," he said.

    "This is what they told me directly."

    Former Ajax boss Ten Hag also defended his tenure at United so far.

    "United won the league for the last time in 2013, 11 years ago. But still they expect us to win every game while competing at the top. This club is not ready for that," he said.

    "We were supposed to start building something and we made the first steps last year, but then you find out how big this club is and that nobody is ever satisfied.

    "Within the club people were satisfied, but outside the club there was noise, [people] saying I won only the EFL Cup, lost the FA Cup final and finished third.

    "Well, then you have no sense of reality. Other clubs had a much better squad."

    Ten Hag also suggested that some pundits in England see United as "easy pray".

    He added: "It's the biggest club in England and possibly in the world. The club is either loved or hated, there is no in-between.

    "So when things go bad, they all start talking and talking with very big words. All this negativity from these so-called experts who don't have the capability to analyse something with facts, but who prefer to attack people to make themselves look better.

    "And these same people were the ones who gave me a pat on the back last year. Last year I was able to walk on water, this year I am the worst manager in the Premier League?"

  • San Jose Earthquakes v Austin FC: Gonzalez hopeful ‘Quakes can start grinding out wins San Jose Earthquakes v Austin FC: Gonzalez hopeful ‘Quakes can start grinding out wins

    Luchi Gonzalez admits his team need to learn the difference between competing and winning as they aim to bounce back against Austin FC on Saturday.

    The Earthquakes currently sit bottom of the Western Conference with 10 points, having won just three games this season.

    Gonzalez highlighted his team has no trouble competing with their opponents and is optimistic they can turn leads into actual wins soon.

    "The result of the last game [against Austin], we didn't get the job done there at the end even though we thought we were about to, but we're competing consistently in any competition," he said.

    "We've had the lead in eight out of [14 MLS games]. That does show you that we're ready, we're prepared and we compete. Competing and winning are two different things. We've got to keep working on our ability to make decisions individually, collectively."

    At the other end of the table, Austin sit in third with 22 points, just six behind leaders Real Salt Lake after back-to-back wins over Houston Dynamo and Sporting Kansas City.

    Head coach Josh Wolff was pleased with his side’s approach in recent weeks but urged them to keep up that level as they head into a busy week.

    "We're very spirited, we're very organised and opportunistic," Wolff said.

    "We've shown we can score goals, that's not a problem. We have to keep approaching games in a meticulous way, a responsible and disciplined way so that we can win."

    PLAYERS TO WATCH

    San Jose Earthquakes – Jeremy Ebobisse

    Ebobisse has scored five goals in seven career matches against Austin FC. Only Jesus Ferreira (6) has scored more MLS goals against the Verde.

    Austin – Sebastian Driussi

    Driussi has scored seven goals in seven career games against the Earthquakes. No player has scored more goals against a single opponent than Driussi against San Jose since he joined MLS in 2021.

    MATCH PREDICTION: SAN JOSE EARTHQUAKES WIN

    Austin recorded their first-ever win over San Jose on April 6 with a 4-3 home victory (D5 L2). There have been at least four goals scored in five of the eight matches between the sides, including a pair of seven-goal games.

    San Jose has lost four of their first six home league matches this season (W2) after losing just twice at PayPal Park during the 2023 regular season. The ‘Quakes have conceded at least once in 11 straight regular-season home matches dating back to last year.

    Meanwhile, Austin have won six of its last nine regular-season matches (D1 L2), including the last two in a row. Only three teams have collected more points than Austin’s 19 since that run began in late March.

    OPTA WIN PROBABILITY

    San Jose Earthquakes – 41.2%

    Draw – 28.6%

    Austin – 30.2%

© 2023 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.