UEFA.com works better on other browsers
For the best possible experience, we recommend using Chrome, Firefox or Microsoft Edge.

Grnja tells Croatia to seize their chance

Having been in charge of Croatia's Under-19s since 2002, Ivica Grnja is determined to make the most of the team's first appearance at the UEFA European Championship finals.

Croatia coach Ivica Grnja
Croatia coach Ivica Grnja ©Marko Prpić/PIXSELL

The likes of Luka Modrić, Niko Kranjčar, Vedran Ćorluka and Nikola Kalinić have passed through his charge during eight years with Croatia's Under-19 team, yet Ivica Grnja has had to wait until this season to guide the side to the UEFA European Under-19 Championship – and he is in no mood to let this opportunity slip.

UEFA.com: What are your ambitions for this tournament?

Ivica Grnja: Simply qualifying is a great success for Croatia. It's also a big surprise, as the top teams didn't expect us to be among them – especially with such impressive records in the two qualifying rounds. We need to build on that to prove that we deserve our finals place.

UEFA.com: What can Croatia do at these finals?

Grnja: We will try to show that us getting to France was not just an accident and that we can match any team. This year's World Cup has shown that there are many factors in matches and favourites don't win every time. No one can be sure of success before the match. If we're at full strength and avoid injuries, we can be a threat to all our opponents. Everything is possible.

UEFA.com: Having won all six qualifying games, could Croatia be the finals' dark horses?

Grnja: We want to be a surprise, to achieve something big. I will do my best to prepare my players and get them to show their best. Success depends on many factors; if we're at our best from the start, everything is open. Defeat Spain in the opening match? Why not?

UEFA.com: What does this success means for Croatian football?

Grnja: That's very difficult to evaluate now. In the future it will definitely be clear that reaching the finals with six victories was a huge success. That's a great thing and very difficult to achieve. It's still difficult to take in what we did.

UEFA.com: Why has this team become the first Croatian side to qualify?

Grnja: We have created a unit and will not tolerate individuals, by which I mean individuals in a negative way. It's not acceptable. We have quality individuals, but they have to be responsible and fit into the team well. We created unity and have a great atmosphere in the team. We had great individuals and excellent teams before but never managed anything like this. What we have now is a collective mentality and excellent team spirit. Most of the players have known each other for a long time and new players have successfully integrated into the group. They all work together perfectly.

Selected for you