After naming his 27-man provisional squad for UEFA EURO 2012, Slaven Bilić has announced that he is to step down from his role as Croatia coach after next month's competition.
"This is my last championship in charge of Croatia," said the 43-year-old. "I have always given my best and, now, I am fully focused on EURO. Afterwards I will be the biggest Croatia fan ‒ I have been a part of the national team for my whole life."
Bilić insisted he was aiming to end his six-year spell as Croatia coach on a high with his side's testing Group C assignment – against the Republic of Ireland, Italy and Spain – in no way weakening his resolve to go all the way in the competition.
"We showed in 2008 that we know how to play and we will be ready again," added Bilić, who as the youngest coach in the tournament guided his side to the quarter-finals of UEFA EURO 2008 when they lost to Turkey in a penalty shoot-out.
"I can't say that this side are better than in 2008, but I can say that I think I am better. We went to Austria [and Switzerland] to win EURO and we are going [to Poland and Ukraine] with the same ambitions now.
"In qualifying more than 30% of our players didn't have enough playing time with their clubs," he continued. "I am not hiding from that problem but at EURO it will not be such an issue as it was in qualifying. We will have a better preparation and we will be together for longer."
Croatia will host Estonia on 25 May before travelling to Norway for their final pre-tournament friendly. Bilić's side then open their UEFA EURO group campaign against Republic of Ireland on 10 June at the Municipal Stadium Poznan.
Croatia provisional squad
Goalkeepers: Stipe Pletikosa (FC Rostov), Danijel Subašić (AS Monaco FC), Ivan Kelava (GNK Dinamo Zagreb), Goran Blažević (HNK Hajduk Split).
Defenders: Vedran Ćorluka (Tottenham Hotspur FC, on loan at Bayer 04 Leverkusen), Josip Šimunić (GNK Dinamo Zagreb), Gordon Schildenfeld (Eintracht Frankfurt), Darijo Srna (FC Shakhtar Donetsk), Šime Vrsaljko (GNK Dinamo Zagreb), Domagoj Vida (GNK Dinamo Zagreb), Danijel Pranjić (FC Bayern München), Dejan Lovren (Olympique Lyonnais), Jurica Buljat (Maccabi Haifa FC), Ivan Strinić (FC Dnipro Dnipropetrovsk).
Midfielders: Luka Modrić (Tottenham Hotspur FC), Ognjen Vukojević (FC Dynamo Kyiv), Tomislav Dujmović (FC Dinamo Moskva), Ivan Perišić (Borussia Dortmund), Ivan Rakitić (Sevilla FC), Niko Kranjčar (Tottenham Hotspur FC), Milan Badelj (GNK Dinamo Zagreb).
Forwards: Eduardo (FC Shakhtar Donetsk), Mario Mandžukić (VfL Wolfsburg), Nikica Jelavić (Everton FC), Ivica Olić (FC Bayern München), Nikola Kalinić (FC Dnipro Dnipropetrovsk), Ivo Iličević (Hamburger SV).
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