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Last Updated: Friday, 18 June, 2004, 12:05 GMT 13:05 UK
Croatia wary of Rooney
By Paul Fletcher
Our man in Portugal

Croatia's Dovani Rosso and Dado Prso celebrate the second goal against France
Croatia have singled out Wayne Rooney as England's main threat ahead of their crunch Group B match on Monday.

"I think Wayne Rooney is in very good shape," defender Robert Kovac told BBC Sport after Croatia's 2-2 draw with France on Thursday.

"You saw how well he did against Switzerland - and Michael Owen is a very good player too.

"They have a strong team but we must fight like we did against France and we will have a good chance."

Croatia's 2-2 draw with France in Leiria means they must beat England to reach the quarter-finals.

Two goals in four minutes propelled them into a shock lead early in the second half before a defensive mistake allowed David Trezeguet to equalise for France.

But Bayern Munich defender Kovac believes the quality of Croatia's performance stands them in good stead for Monday's game in Lisbon.

Rooney won't be able to throw any punches because we'll be throwing the first ones
Croatia keeper Jospeh Didulica
"I think both teams have a chance to win," he added.

"We played well against France and so we have a good chance against England.

"We have some good players and we play as a team. But our philosophy is that we have good fighting spirit.

"We have 90 minutes. First we must control the game and them we must pressurise."

Croatia goalkeeper Jospeh Didulica agreed that Rooney poses a major threat.

"Rooney is playing a great tournament, showing what a class player he is and credit to Sven-Goran Eriksson for having the confidence to play him.

"Rooney is a fighter, really putting in some big tackles. He is showing not just his goalscoring abilities but also his guts and his determination."

But Didulica carried a word of warning for Rooney, whose physical approach has often riled opponents.

"Against the Croatians Rooney won't be able to throw any punches because we will be throwing the first ones," he said.

Links to more Croatia stories


Interview with England's Gary Neville

Highlights: England 3-0 Switzerland


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