Ivica Olić has promised that Croatia will "attack from kick-off" as they look to turn Friday's goalless draw in Reykjavik into a FIFA World Cup berth.
Iceland had much the better of the first leg until Ólafur Skúlason was dismissed five minutes after half-time and Croatia took charge. Though they laid siege to the hosts' goal for much the second period, Niko Kovač’s men could not find a way past goalkeeper Hannes Halldórsson.
"We showed in Iceland that we are better, but we couldn't score," said Olić. "However, I am sure that it will be a different story in Zagreb – their goalkeeper will have a difficult job. We need to attack them from kick-off and look to press them hard in order to suffocate them. If we play 20% better attack than in Reykjavik, we will certainly secure the World Cup spot."
Having missed out in South Africa in 2010, Croatia "need to be united" according to captain Darijo Srna. For Croatian Football Federation (HNS) president Davor Šuker, who finished as tournament top scorer when Croatia finished third at the 1998 FIFA World Cup, the Zagreb crowd have a key role to play. "
I want to call on all our fans to come to the Stadion Maksimir and support the national team," he said. "Completing the task that we are all dreaming about will be much easier with your support."
While Croatia have no fresh injury concerns, their visitors will be missing Kolbeinn Sigthórsson in Zagreb, the AFC Ajax striker having been replaced at half-time in the first leg after tripping and spraining his ankle. "I've missed many important games, but this is the game I would never miss, so it's a shock for me not to play," said the 23-year-old, who weighed in with four qualifying goals during the group stage.
"I was hoping for some miracle treatment from our federation's medical team, but the ankle is very swollen and I simply have to give it more time. That's it, but we have a good team and someone else will take over."
Coach Lars Lagerbäck certainly does not lack options up front, and sc Heerenveen's Alfred Finnbogason – top scorer in the Eredivisie – will likely lead the line after spending much of the qualifying campaign as a substitute. Lagerbäck can also call upon veteran marksman Eidur Gudjohnsen, along with UC Sampdoria's Birkir Bjarnason and Johann Gudmundsson of AZ Alkmaar.
Confidence within the Iceland camp remains strong too, according to Iceland assistant coach Heimir Hallgrímsson. "We have never played two games without scoring," he said. "The spirit is good and the players are really calm, which is strange considering the importance of the game and how close we are to something which has long been a distant dream."
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