Modric says first get through the group, then more for Croatia

Soccer Football - FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 - Group F - Morocco v Croatia - Al Bayt Stadium, Al Khor, Qatar - November 23, 2022 Croatia's Luka Modric reacts after the match REUTERS/Marko Djurica

AL KHOR, Qatar, Nov 23 (Reuters) - Captain Luka Modric says Croatia have set a primary target of qualifying from their opening group at the World Cup in Qatar but after that are hoping to match their achievements of four years ago when they finished runners-up in Russia.

But he bemoaned a lack of sharpness in attack as they opened their Group F campaign with a 0-0 draw against Morocco at the Al Bayt Stadium on Wednesday.

"It was a difficult game, especially in the first 15 minutes but I thought we were much the better team in the second half. Our defence was particularly strong but missed something upfront.

"I think if we had been a little sharper in attack we could have opened them up a bit more," said the 37-year-old playmaker, a former Ballon d’Or winner and inspiration behind their unexpected run to the final in 2018.

"We haven’t come here just to compete. On the basis of our Russian experience we have ambitions to do the same or even better but even before that tournament we said let’s first set a primary objections of getting past the group stage."

"We know that once we get into the knockout rounds we can be a very dangerous opponents. We have greater goals here, don’t misunderstand me," he told the post-match news conference.

Coach Zlatko Dalic, who was also in charge four years ago, warned, however, about making comparisons between the 2018 side and the current squad.

"This is a whole other team, four years have passed since the last World Cup and we have virtually a new national team. We cannot draw comparisons between the two generation of players.

"But this is a team that has high values and competence. This result against Morocco was not a disappointment and proved that this is going to be a difficult tournament," he added.

Dalic did however bemoan his side’s approach. "We should have gone forward more but we were a scare of being caught on the counterattack. A bit of courage was missing on our side."

Croatia are next up against Canada on Sunday and then meet group favourites Belgium in their last group game on Dec. 1.

Editing by Angus MacSwan

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