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Kovač unbowed by pressure of Brazil opener

Published: Wednesday 26 March 2014, 10.42CET
"The whole world will be watching," Croatia coach Niko Kovač told UEFA.com of his side's challenging 2014 FIFA World Cup opener against hosts Brazil on 12 June.

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Published: Wednesday 26 March 2014, 10.42CET

Kovač unbowed by pressure of Brazil opener

"The whole world will be watching," Croatia coach Niko Kovač told UEFA.com of his side's challenging 2014 FIFA World Cup opener against hosts Brazil on 12 June.

Niko Kovač only became Croatia coach in mid-October, but after steering his side to the 2014 FIFA World Cup via a play-off against Iceland, his sights are now set somewhat higher.

Croatia's reward for qualifying was a berth in Group A and the honour of playing hosts Brazil in Sao Paolo in the tournament opener on 12 June. A daunting prospect to many but a challenge Kovač is relishing. "I am happy, we are all happy that we'll play against Brazil in the first match," he told UEFA.com.

"The whole world will be watching, two or three billion people. I hope they will see our national team fighting on every square centimetre of the pitch."

As a major finals coaching debut it is a baptism of fire for the 42-year-old, who marshalled the midfield against Brazil as captain the last time Croatia participated at a World Cup, in Germany in 2006.

However, Kovač has put that 1-0 defeat in Berlin to the back of his mind and shrugs off any suggestion of opening-night nerves. "They are the hosts, their fans will be cheering for them, but, as much as it is nice for them, at the same time it will be hard – the pressure will be on them," he said.

"We will go into the competition, the match, without the pressure. We will give our best and I hope there will be a positive outcome."

Click on the video player above to hear more from Kovač on a World Cup section also containing Cameroon and Mexico.

Last updated: 08/05/14 1.32CET

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