Kovac gives Croatia time to rest

Croatia coach Nico Kovac has told his players they are to take some time off before their decisive World Cup game against Mexico, according to Sky Sports.

Croatia kept their World Cup hopes alive after a convincing 4-0 victory over Cameroon. After losing their opening match to hosts Brazil, defeat against the Indomitable Lions would have seen the Balkan country eliminated. But they put in a professional performance in the face of Cameroonian indiscipline to record a comfortable win.

Coach Kovac, who recognised that his team could have scored more goals against the west Africans, was pleased with the way his players dealt with the unfamiliar, humid conditions. “I can only congratulate the players,” said Kovac. “They won in very difficult conditions. It was hard to sit or stand, let alone run around on the pitch.”

Kovac had been furious after their controversial opening defeat against Brazil, strongly criticising the referee who awarded a highly dubious penalty to the hosts and disallowed a potential Croatian equaliser before Brazil went on to win 3-1.

But the win over Cameroon means Croatia now have their World Cup fate in their own hands once more. A win against Mexico in their final group game will see them progress to the next round, while a draw or defeat would put the central Americans through instead.

Kovac recognised the magnitude of the clash, and told reporters that his team would need to be at their absolute best to have any chance of success.

“The match against Mexico will be like a final. We have to get some rest, because a serious opponent awaits,” said Kovac of the showdown in Recife.

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