Former Manchester City and Tottenham Hotspur defender Vedran Corluka says Croatia have been “flattering to deceive” at recent World Cups and it is time their talented side delivered at the world stage.
Croatia have made group stage exits in their last three appearances at the World Cup (2002, 2006, 2014) winning just two of their nine matches (2-1 against Italy in 2002 and 4-0 against Cameroon in 2014).
Their best performance was at their debut in 1998 when they shocked the world by finishing third.
“We are tired of being billed as a talented generation which keeps flattering to deceive,” 32-year-old Lokomotiv Moscow defender Corluka, who featured for his country at the 2014 World Cup in Brazil, told the Croatian Football Association’s official website.
“We let ourselves and our fans down in every World Cup since the 1998 tournament, especially the last one.
“We have to focus on our strengths and use the good atmosphere in the dressing room as a platform.”
Corluka, who has 97 international caps, is one of five centre-backs in coach Zlatko Dalic’s provisional 24-man squad and is aware that he faces a battle to make the final cut.
“We all have different qualities,” he said. “Some of us are quicker while others are stronger, but either way the coach will make the right decision no matter who he picks for the Russia-bound squad.
“The most frequent partnership I’ve had was with Domagoj Vida, but I’d be just as comfortable with Dejan Lovren who proved his worth after an excellent season at Liverpool capped by playing well in the Champions League final.”
Croatia will play warm-up games against Brazil at Anfield on June 3 and against Senegal on home soil in Osijek five days later.
They will open their Group D campaign against Nigeria, followed by games against Argentina and Iceland.