The Croatia coach spoke around the FIFA World Cup 2022
Croatia head coach Zlatko Dalić is no stranger to the Gulf after spending seven years managing teams in Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. Dalić won four major honours in the region and reached the final of the AFC Champions League with Al Ain in 2016.
Dalić is looking forward to the first FIFA World Cup in the Arab world and believes Qatar’s compact tournament preparations will help take international football to the next level.
The former defensive midfielder, who led his country to a runners-up finish at this summer’s World Cup in Russia, spoke to discoveryfootball.com during the 7th International Sports Symposium in Sarajevo.
You have previously managed football clubs in the Gulf, what are your experiences of the region?
I coached in this part of the world for seven years and I have to say that it was very nice. I learned a lot of new things in life being here, but most importantly, I had good results on the pitch. I can say in the Gulf I became calmer, and how to remain calm is important for a manager who must deal with defeats, for instance, or being eliminated from a tournament. As they would say, «Insh’Allah». Being there helped me reach where I am as a manager.
The 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar will be the first compact version of the tournament. It will significantly reduce the need for travel, while fans will have the chance to attend more than one match per day during the group stage. What are your thoughts on this?
Recently, and for the majority of my career, I have been accustomed to playing and coaching in big countries, which sometimes requires a lot of effort. Constantly changing location can be a headache and affect the game adversely. I think a compact World Cup will make the game more «high level» and of course, like the fans, managers might also be able to watch more than a single match in one day, maybe even three, which is a big advantage.
Qatar, a small country like Croatia, wants to experience success on the international stage. What advice can a coach like you give to Qatar to help the country follow in the footsteps of Croatia?
There must be trust among the players, while it is very important to maintain unity and discipline. Also, it’s integral that national team players are playing in continental tournaments like the UEFA Champions League, or in Qatar’s case the AFC Champions League, and play for title-contending clubs in the countries where they play.
In the end, we also had the best players of the World Cup and the best player of the tournament, Luka Modric. We had a great generation that only wanted great success, so there is also an element of luck involved.
The team must love the pitch they play on. Showing heart is the most important thing, because then, even if you do not win the game, no one will be disappointed.
There are exactly four years to go until the start of the 2022 FIFA World Cup. We hope to see you here coaching Croatia.
Thank you very much for your wishes. You have young, smart people in Qatar, who are educated and prepared to host the world’s biggest tournament. Continue in that direction and I’m sure everyone will enjoy the World Cup in 2022.