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'Croatia's match against Mexico will be like a final'

Last updated on: June 23, 2014 15:16 IST

'Croatia's match against Mexico will be like a final'

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Croatia coach Niko Kovac knows his side face an uphill task against Miguel Herrera's side in Recife in the wake of Mexico's confidence-boosting draw with Brazil. 

Kovac says his Croatia side are facing their own World Cup 'final' against Mexico with only a win guaranteeing them a place in the last
16. Croatia bounced back from their opening 3-1 defeat to hosts Brazil in Group A with a 4-0 demolition of Cameroon last Wednesday to keep their knock-out dreams alive. 

Striker Mario Mandzukic scored two second-half goals as Croatia sent 10-man Cameroon crashing out of the tournament in disarray. Wolfsburg pair Ivica Olic and Ivan Perisic also got on the scoresheet, but Croatia still remain third in the table behind leaders Brazil and Mexico. 

Kovac knows his side face an uphill task against Miguel Herrera's side in Recife in the wake of Mexico's confidence-boosting draw with Brazil.

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Image: Fans arrive before a Croatia at Arena Amazonas in Manaus
Photographs: Bruno Zanardo/Getty Images

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'Croatia's match against Mexico will be like a final'

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Croatia coach Niko Kovac knows his side face an uphill task against Miguel Herrera's side in Recife in the wake of Mexico's confidence-boosting draw with Brazil. 

Kovac says his Croatia side are facing their own World Cup 'final' against Mexico with only a win guaranteeing them a place in the last
16. Croatia bounced back from their opening 3-1 defeat to hosts Brazil in Group A with a 4-0 demolition of Cameroon last Wednesday to keep their knock-out dreams alive. 

Striker Mario Mandzukic scored two second-half goals as Croatia sent 10-man Cameroon crashing out of the tournament in disarray. Wolfsburg pair Ivica Olic and Ivan Perisic also got on the scoresheet, but Croatia still remain third in the table behind leaders Brazil and Mexico. 

Kovac knows his side face an uphill task against Miguel Herrera's side in Recife in the wake of Mexico's confidence-boosting draw with Brazil.

- Complete coverage of the football World Cup

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Image: Croatia coach Niko Kovac with the team's assistant coach Robert Kovac (right) at a training session
Photographs: Buda Mendes/Getty Images

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'Mexico are strong, but so are we'

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Mexican goalkeeper Guillermo Ochoa wrote himself into World Cup folklore with a string of top-class saves including one from point-blank range to deny Brazil's Neymar in Fortaleza last Tuesday. 

A draw against Croatia would be enough to put Mexico through after their goalless draw with Brazil and 1-0 win over Cameroon.

"The match against Mexico will be like a final," Kovac told Croatian broadcaster HTV. "Mexico are strong, but so are we. "The Mexico players are very patriotic, just like us, and they have a great team spirit. 

"They play some aggressive football with a lot of pressing. 

"They are strong going forward, but also have some weaknesses in defence, like Brazil showed us."

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Image: Oribe Peralta of Mexico (19) runs to the sidelines to celebrate his goal with teammates
Photographs: Miguel Tovar/Getty Images

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