DOHA: Croatia coach Zlatko Dalic said on Wednesday his team “will not be fooled” by reports of infighting in the Belgium camp ahead of the teams’ winner-takes-all World Cup clash.
The 2018 runners-up need to avoid defeat on Thursday to be sure of qualification for the last 16, while Belgium likely need all three points.
Belgian coach Roberto Martinez hit out at “fake news” after media reports of a rift in his squad.
“We must not relax, me also. He (Martinez) is a great coach and will know how to hurt Croatia,” Dalic told a pre-match press conference.
“We will not be fooled by media stories and rumours. We are expecting the best from Belgium, a great team with excellent players.”
Striker Romelu Lukaku is expected to start for Belgium, having made his comeback from a thigh injury as a late substitute in the 2-0 loss to Morocco last week.
“He (Lukaku) is a great player who has been on the top of his game for many years in a row,” said his former Chelsea teammate Mateo Kovacic.
“It’ll be difficult, we’ve prepared, we’re expecting a very efficient Belgium. It’s going to be a difficult game. We must be focused and ready.”
Croatia brushed aside any worries they were an ageing force after a goalless draw with Morocco by coming from behind to beat Canada 4-1 in their second Group F match.
“We’ll show our true face, the face we demonstrated against Canada,” said Kovacic.