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Croatia

Published: Sunday 1 January 2012, 18.09CET
Dinko Jeličić's first campaign as Croatia Under-19 coach has gone swimmingly so far and he is adamant his side are not heading to Estonia just to see the sights.
Croatia
Marko Dugandžić celebrates scoring against Austria ©Ivan Klindić
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Published: Sunday 1 January 2012, 18.09CET

Croatia

Dinko Jeličić's first campaign as Croatia Under-19 coach has gone swimmingly so far and he is adamant his side are not heading to Estonia just to see the sights.

Dinko Jeličić's first campaign as Croatia Under-19 coach went swimmingly, and after kicking off with a 4-2 win against Finland in the Netherlands, his side went on to win their qualifying section following a goalless draw against the hosts. Jeličić warned his players about the calibre of their opponents as his side staged elite round Group 6, but insisted he was aiming for top spot. He duly achieved that target; Marko Dugandžić hit a late equaliser in a 2-2 draw against Austria, and with Croatia playing some vibrant attacking football, they surged into the final tournament with two-goal victories against Georgia and Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Anchored by some solid performers in defence, Croatia have grown in stature in the course of the qualifying campaign, Jeličić saying of their qualification: "This is a big success for all the members of our squad. There were no guarantees before the start of the elite round campaign, but we managed to achieve a great result and reached the finals. We are not going to Estonia as tourists; we have a good team, and we will be contenders."

Qualifying round: Finland 4-2, Moldova 4-0, Netherlands 0-0 (Group 11 winners)

Elite round: Austria 2-2, Georgia 3-1, Bosnia-Herzegovina 2-0 (Group 6 winners)

Key players: Mateo Kovačić (midfielder, GNK Dinamo Zagreb), Marko Livaja (forward, FC Internazionale Milano), Ante Rebić (forward, RNK Split), Ivan Močinić (midfielder, HNK Rijeka), Toni Datković (midfielder, HNK Rijeka)

Coach: Dinko Jeličić
Born: 19 September 1973
Nationality: Croatian
Coaching career: NK Špansko (youth), NK Kustošija (youth), GNK Dinamo Zagreb (youth), NK Radnik Sesvete, Croatia Under-19

Put in charge of Zagreb-based Špansko's U15 team in 2005, Jeličić showed his ability to hone young players' skills, leading his side to a 6-4 victory against Sweden's BK Häcken in the final of the prestigious Gothia Cup youth tournament.

Three years later he was hired to take charge of Dinamo's youth teams, leading them to three successive Croatian titles, and he also took up a leading role with NK Radnik Sesvete, the senior side that schools many of Dinamo's top youngsters. Good results led to him joining the Croatian Football Federation (HNS) in 2011, and he won over his doubters by bringing some excellent performances out of his U19 side.

Team records

Qualifying top scorer
Mario Jelavić, Marko Dugandžić, Ante Rebić: 3

UEFA European Under-19 Championship best
Semi-finals 2010

Honours in UEFA youth competitions
UEFA European Under-18 Championship
Third place 1998
UEFA European Under-17 Championship
Fourth place 2005
UEFA European Under-16 Championship
Third place 2001

Last updated: 01/07/12 14.47CET

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http://www.uefa.com/under19/news/newsid=1801308.html#croatia

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