Sports Football 15 Jul 2018 Troubled childhood i ...

Troubled childhood is motivating factor for Croats

DECCAN CHRONICLE. | NOVY KAPADIA
Published Jul 15, 2018, 1:21 am IST
Updated Jul 15, 2018, 1:21 am IST
Croatia with a population of just 42 lakhs can now break this jinx for Eastern European nations in the final against France.
Davor Suker, Zvonimir Boban and Luka Modric.
 Davor Suker, Zvonimir Boban and Luka Modric.

Croatia is the 13th country and third from Eastern Europe to have entered a World Cup final. But no Eastern European country has won the World Cup so far. Hungary, were favourites to win in 1954 but lost 2-3 to West Germany.

Czechoslovakia almost won the 1934 World Cup. They led Italy 1-0 at Rome till the 81st minute. Then a freak goal by left-winger Raimundo Orsi helped Italy equalise and they won 2-1 in extra time. In 1962, Czechoslovakia were in the final again but lost 1-3 to the brilliance of Garrincha and Vava.

 

Croatia with a population of just 42 lakhs can now break this jinx for Eastern European nations in the final against France. If Croatia win they will be the first to do so, after winning all three of their knock out matches, either in extra time or on penalties.

Fatigue can be a factor but Zlatko Dalic’s team is highly motivated that and could raise their game in the final. An example of this commitment is midfielder Ivan Rakitic who played in the semi-final against England despite having a temperature of 102 degrees.

The final will hinge on how France’s hyperactive midfield trio of Ngolo Kante, Paul Pobga and Blaise Matuidi can subdue the Croatian midfield in which Luka Modric with his slight build and ‘70s hairstyle has excelled. Modric is a firm contender for the Golden Ball award (started in 1982), given to the best player of the tournament. The other contenders are Eden Hazard (Belgium) and Ngolo Kante (France). For sheer perseverance it should be given to Modric, whose leadership skills have also been exemplary.

 

Modric was just six years old when forced to flee from his village around 30 miles east of Zadar. Modric is named after his grandfather, who was killed by Serbian military at the outset of the Balkan wars. With the rest of his family, Modric took refuge in Zadar, within the confines of a hotel. For Modric and eight of his team-mates born in the 1980s, childhood was a harrowing time of genocide and displacement.

Memories of their troubled childhood is their major motivating factor and the privations of their youth have made them tenacious and tough characters willing to bear any hardships.

 

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