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Tuesday, 4 June, 2002, 10:16 GMT 11:16 UK
Croatia branded a 'shambles'
Former Croatian coach Miroslav Blazevic
Blazevic took Croatia to third in the last World Cup
Croatia's most successful coach has blasted the present team after their 1-0 defeat by Mexico.

Miroslav Blazevic - who guided the Croatian side to third place in France 98 - has labelled the current side a "shambles".
Open Quote
The match was an embarrassment to Croatian soccer
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Miroslav Blazevic

He said: "The match was an embarrassment to Croatian soccer - a complete shambles.

"The Mexican team that ran out Monday was a class below us and we lost to them because we lacked the courage to face them head to head.

"We sent out a team of defenders and retreated into a mouse hole, hoping that the cat would fall asleep or just go away."

It was not the first time that Blazevic has lambasted the national team and the style adopted by current coach Mirko Jozic.

Blazevic, who is in Japan writing for a Croatian newspaper, has previously charged Jozic with betraying Croatia's footballing tradition.

Croatia's Boris Zivkovic is sent off
Zivkovic is the first player sent off in this world cup

The former coach believes that by ditching one of the country's most dangerous weapons - its attacking spirit - Jozic has sold out.

He added: "Jozic has betrayed our tradition by abandoning our inborn offensive style of play."

But Jozic replied by indicating that the team was not the same unit that finished third at France 98.

The present Croatia team, Jozic added, has had to fill the vacuum created by the retirement of key players like former skipper Zvonimir Boban.


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GROUP G
  P GD PTS
MEXICO 3 +2 7
ITALY 3 +1 4
CROATIA 3 -1 3
ECUADOR 3 -2 3

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