World Cup chit-chat: Fit Modric and debutant Mandzukic to lead Croatia charge
Midfielder Luka Modric and available-again striker Mario Mandzukic will spearhead Croatia’s effort to keep alive their hopes of reaching the World Cup last 16 when they face Cameroon on Wednesday, coach Niko Kovac said.
Modric has recovered from a foot injury he sustained in the opening 3-1 Group A defeat by Brazil while Mandzukic will make his World Cup debut after serving a one-match ban for being sent off in the second leg of Croatia's playoff win over Iceland.
"We are delighted to have Mandzukic back, any coach would be and talking about his qualities would be totally superfluous so he will lead the line tomorrow,” Kovac said.
"Modric is 100 per cent fit, he came through training and there is no question he will be ready.
"This is a make or break game for both teams and the fact that Cameroon have to take risks too can help us get into our stride and fire on all cylinders.
"We will do all we can to come away with all three points against a very strong and disciplined team, who will pose a threat despite the fact that they will be missing (striker) Samuel Eto’o.
"I am sure their coach Volker Finke has a plan B and any player who replaces Eto'o will be raring to go."
Cameroon lost their opening fixture to Mexico 1-0 and have won only one game in their last five World Cup campaigns, a 1-0 defeat of Saudi Arabia in the 2002 tournament's group stage.
Image: Luka Modric, centre, of Croatia looks on with his teammates during a Croatia training session
Photographs: Adam Pretty/Getty Images