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Kovač congratulates Croatia, Ghedin satisfied

Niko Kovač congratulated his Croatia players after they battled past Malta to a 2-0 win, while opposite number Pietro Ghedin remained satisfied despite leaving Zagreb with nothing to show.

Kovač congratulates Croatia, Ghedin satisfied
Kovač congratulates Croatia, Ghedin satisfied ©UEFA.com

Croatia coach Niko Kovač congratulates his players after victroy against Malta
Opposite number Pietro Ghedin satisfied with performance despite defeat
• Luka Modrić enjoys moment after first international goal in three years
Malta's André Agius says his side need to improve during qualification

Niko Kovač, Croatia coach
We met our target. We have three important points to start off qualification. We shall analyse the match, maybe to see where we made some mistakes, particularly in the first half. I will not single out anyone – the whole team gave their best. Congratulations to everyone. My players are eager to play matches. They are getting better and better.

The goal is to play an entire 90 minutes well. Maybe against Malta it was not the case, but that is the goal. Bulgaria are our next opponents. It will be a totally different game. They will play at home and will attack. We will analyse the opponent, we will be ready for that game in October.

Pietro Ghedin, Malta coach
Perhaps this will be a surprising statement, but I am satisfied with how my team played against a very strong Croatia. Especially because we played with a player less for most of the game. Croatia are one of the favourites in our group, so this is not so bad. We played well in defence, we are not embarrassed after having ten players on the field.

Luka Modrić, Croatia midfielder
It was not an easy match for us, it was difficult. Malta were defending very well, even when they were down to ten players. But we opened the second half with the goal and that made our job much easier. At the end we could have scored more goals, but the victory is the most important thing. Yes, I scored my first goal after three years for the national team, but it is not a relief now, why it should be a relief?

I was never crazily hungry for goals, the team was always first for me. I was always trying to help my team to play better and to win matches. If the goals come, great. If not, I will not feel the pressure. This goal comes on my birthday. Maybe I should have more birthdays, maybe I would score more!

Andrej Kramarić, Croatia midfielder
I am not unhappy about not starting. Why should I be? It is the coach's decision. I expect I will get the chance in the future. At the end I got the chance and I think I did a good job. I scored my first goal for Croatia, I am happy because of it, but the most important thing is that we won the match. I also want to thank the fans for giving me loud support when I was entering the pitch.

It was an extra motivation for me. I want to dedicate this first goal to my family, who were a big support to me on hard days and at nice moments. I said I would keep the jersey from my first match for Croatia, but I will save this one too. One from the debut and one from the match where I scored my first goal for Croatia.

André Agius, Malta defender
It was a good start for us. We had the first chance and then Croatia took the possession as expected. We had things under control, but then we were down to ten players and after that it was harder and harder. We managed to keep the clean sheet until half-time, but when we conceded a fast goal in the second half it became very difficult for us.

We were very disciplined during most of the match, especially in the first half. We cannot be satisfied because we lost, but we need to look on the positive side. We need to work hard: we have a lot of limits, but we need to do our best to improve our game.