INTERVIEW – Croatian Journalist, Olivari: Argentina Will Win Group D; Croatia Will Beat Nigeria To 2nd Spot

INTERVIEW – Croatian Journalist, Olivari: Argentina Will Win Group D; Croatia Will Beat Nigeria To 2nd Spot

Davorin Olivari, writes for Croatian Sports Daily Newspaper, Sportske Novosti, and was in Russia for the 2018 FIFA World Cup final draw. He fielded questions from Completesportsnigeria’s KAYODE OGUNDARE moments after the draw at the State Kremlin Palace in Moscow. Here are excerpts from the chat…
What do you think about this draw, pitting your country against Nigeria, Argentina, and Iceland in one group?
My opinion is that it is one of the most interesting groups at the World Cup, and this has got nothing to do with the fact that my country is in the group. We all know Argentina and their World Cup pedigree. They have the most high profile players of all the teams in the group, including the incredible Lionel Messi. They have won two World Cups before and they reached the final of the last one in Brazil 2014. So Argentina is the team to beat in the group.
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You seem to think very highly of the Argentines. So what are the chances of the three other teams, including your own Croatia? 
I think Argentina is superior to the other teams in the group and I see them going through as group winners. The three other teams will have to battle for the second position and, in that, I think Croatia has a bit of an edge over Nigeria and Iceland. The margin between the three teams is not much but it is still there. So I think Croatia will get to the next round ahead of Nigeria.
You obviously know your team very well, but what do you know about the Nigerian team that gives you this optimism that Croatia will qualify ahead of the Super Eagles?
I know little about the current Super Eagles, but I know that in the past your team was very very strong. I remember 1994 in USA and at the Olympics in 1996. That Super Eagles is better than now. You had one of the best teams in the World. For me, Emmanuel Amuneke was your best player and I wonder why he’s not coaching this team now. I know he coached your under-17 team, but he should be coaching the senior team. He was good player and now a good coach.
How strong is Croatia, going to the World Cup, considering you had to go through the play-offs to qualify?
We have a very strong  team. If we want to talk about names and the clubs they play for, we have Luka Modric, one of the best players in Real Madrid;  Ivan Ratikic is in Barcelona, Mario Mandzukic at Juventus and Šime Vrsaljko at Atletico Madrid, but we know football is just more than a collection of players. Preparation is key and how prepared we are we shall see in June next year at the World Cup.
You don’t seem to reckon with Iceland at all? Don’t you think given that they topped the same qualifying group ahead of Croatia should earn them some respect from you?
Oh, no disrespect to Iceland. They have a very good team. They beat us away during the qualifiers, but this is the competition proper and our pedigree will show. Luckily, we play them last and hopefully they would have been knocked out by Argentina and Nigeria before we meet them.
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  • BabaDudu 4 years ago

    Talk is cheap!

  • So u re underrating your team? well, by God’s grace both u and Argentina are going out in d group stages. Nigeria is topping that group. Argentina have been beating us all these years but our luck will rise on them this time

  • henry abah 4 years ago

    Well. I still think Iceland and Argentina will go through. Nigeria surely does not have a chance at the world cup.

  • Our first game against Croatia is key. Bottom line is that we must not lose that game. A point against Croatia means we will have to beat Iceland well and avoid conceding many against Argentina because it may boil down to goal difference. Meanwhile, beating Croatia will ease the pressure on the team and propel us towards the second round. As per Argentina, am somehow confident but we must not allow the game as a win or burst type for us.
    To be frank, my confidence about this team stems from our coach who is very knowledgeable about football and am sure he will do a very good dissection of Croatia b4 the D-day.

  • I can bet it with my last kobo that Argentina would not top the group. Nigeria will top the group. If care is not taken,croatia or iceland will be 2nd.

  • vincent Onuigwe 4 years ago


  • Fasasi Kunle 4 years ago

    No wonder he is a journalist not footballer or coach but you should know argentina can be second to Nigeria in the group even Iceland can beat your team again as they did during qualifier.

  • Croatian cannot win, up eagles of Nigeria

  • jamie mcbride 4 years ago

    i’ve been following futbol for a long while…croatia will win the group. all tournaments they are always put down….yet, they have always beaten the “big” teams. last euro tournament spain was in their group, spain favorites naturally…croatia’s youngsters “B” squad not only beat espana but played them off the pitch. I rate spain higher than argentina. nigeria look at the tapes & wake up, croatia is better than you think.

  • Nigeria and Croatia will emerge from this group. Both teams are unpredictable, physical with apparently inexhaustible energy burst. Argentina, with an elderly squad, will not crawl out of this group despite the opinion of armchair analysts. Nigeria is blessed with Rohr, a soccer magician extraordinare.

  • O'Billy Pam'Pam 4 years ago

    This group is tricky,only the technical superiority of any of the team will make the difference.Rohr has shown his technical competence,Nigeria will make it to the semi final.

  • Ifeanyi 4 years ago

    Nigeria will make it to the round of 16.

  • Croatians will have their hands on their head after d match.