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Monday, 15 April, 2002, 15:19 GMT 16:19 UK

Talk about Croatia

A 1-0 defeat by Ecuador condemns Croatia to a first round exit and they leave only with a famous victory over Italy to savour.

What do you think of Croatia's efforts?

This debate is now closed. A selection of your e-mails appear below.

Croatia were, collectively, too old to make an impression of any kind. They need to build from scratch. Determination must be backed by some ability.
Desmond Asiedu, Ghana

" Everyone expected too much of them, just because they managed to get third place four years ago "
Maja, Croatia

To play a defensive game and rely on counter-attacking when a two-goal victory is needed is a coaching disaster. There is no one to blame here but the coach.
Ivan, USA

Despite having international pedigree, the talented Croatians were let down by Jozic Mirko's initial reluctance to depart from the 'golden oldies' such as Suker and Prosinecki.

Their surprising victory against the Azzuri did much to raise hopes, but their unflattering performance against Ecuador showed that they should not be too disappointed to be on their way home.
Bobby Seagull, England

Everyone expected too much of them, just because they managed to get third place four years ago. The players have changed since then and the young players are brilliant but lack experience - we will be back in four years time!
Maja, Croatia

Croatia were a good team but they now have to prepare for the next World Cup, with young talents.
Adrian, Mexico

" I'd just like to say thanks to Alen Boksic for everything he has done for the national team "
Slavko Seremet, Canada

Three games and all we've seen were about 10 minutes of top class football against Italy. What a waste of effort and energy. Hopefully the younger Croatia team that has just emerged out of this World Cup will in due course rise to the glory of the previous generation.

A very sad day. In the event that this was his last game for Croatia, I'd just like to say thanks to Alen Boksic for everything he has done for the national team.
Slavko Seremet, Canada

Croatia put up a splendid fight against Italy and Mexico. This is one of the two groups that I felt should have three teams qualifying, the other group being the 'group of death'. I think the Croats have a very good young team - good luck to them in the next World Cup!
Ananth Agastya, USA

While being part of Yugoslavia soccer players from Croatia had a chance to play in a strong league and hone their skills in strong competition.

" We are steadily declining "
Josko M, US

Now, the new generation is developing in a small, limited league, and only some manage to go abroad to play. However, the cohesion and knowledge of each other which are developed by playing together in domestic teams, and which translates into better team play when you play for a national team,

These small leagues and lousy competition (with a lot of small town/country corruption and fixed results, even in championship games like this year in Croatia) is a situation that plagues all soccer teams and players from new, smaller, countries founded on the disintegration of the former Yugoslavia.

All in all, in response to some, we are not simply the best, we are steadily declining and if we do not join a larger, more competitive league, our soccer teams, our national team, and our initial soccer talent is simply going nowhere.
Josko M., US

We are pathetic. We are not capable of pressing our advantage.
Nora, croatia

" We should have beaten Ecuador after the Italy result "
Ben, US

Mirko Jozic has finally realized the potential of his younger players and now has the courage to clear-out the older stars.
Hrvoje S., Croatia

We are the strongest, the craziest and simply the best! Go Croatia!
Branko, Belgium

The great victory of Croatia proves that we are a great country and that we have some of the best sportsmen of the world. For example, Goran Ivanisevic's victory at Wimbledon, the Croatian football team in the World Cup 1998, the best European basketball players, the world champions of water polo, etc.
Soldo NÚven, Belgium

Totti is so effective playing just behind the strikers. But I would put Montella on instead of Inzaghi. Montella is hungry and has a lot to prove to Fabio Capello. What last night also proved is that Italy are really missing Albertini to provide the service to Vieri.
Irene Hoe,Singapore

I will be really surprised if Croatia don't get to the second round, they have just showed their true face. Great football.
Marko, England

" They made Croatians around the world very proud with their defeat of Italy "
Michael Savor, Canada

Looks like goal that Vieri scored was not offside, but Inzaghi made a foul on Simic by pulling his shirt in the last minute. It was tough and interesting game and the draw would be fair. But, however, you can't say that Croatia didn't deserve to win, we played really good today. Go Croatia!!
Ivan, Croatia

With all respect to Suker and Prosinecki but it is time for the old players to step off. If Jozic decides to keep young and capable players like Olic, Vugrinec, Vranjes and Rapaic in the first eleven with Boksic in attack, we could go far!
Mario, Croatia

Bravo to Croatia for an excellent game. They finally played with passion and heart, and proved that they are not to be underestimated. They made Croatians around the world very proud with their defeat of Italy. Keep it up boys. Go Croatia!
Michael Savor, Canada

" Ivica Olic is the best forward player in Croatia; he is like Ronaldo or Shevchenko on their best days! "
Milan, Croatia

Croatia played magnificently for a short spell, scoring two goals due to sloppy Italian defending. However, as the two disallowed goals and Totti's free-kick showed, Italy were far the better side.
Mario, UK

No matter how many times we defeat the world's top teams, everyone always considers us underdogs. Let them say what they want, as long as we keep winning!
Ivan Rados, Hamilton, Canada

Croatia have the skill and passion to defeat the worlds best - they proved it again against Italy.
Steve, Toronto, Canada

Ivica Olic is the best forward player in Croatia; he is like Ronaldo or Shevchenko on their best days! Suker is OK, but his time has past! Well done Olic
Milan, Croatia

Boka is old and useless. Suker cannot play. Let's face it, we need to rebuild, we aren't going anywhere!
Torki Djorkic, Canada

" The match against Mexico was clearly an embarrassment to Croatia "

There is nothing wrong with having seven 30+ year old players in the squad. That is a good balance of young and experience. It was however criminal to play all of them at the same time in the afternoon heat. The team had no legs; we were only dangerous from set-plays.

I know Jozic doesn't like to concede goals but what kind of tactical mastermind was at work when, at 1-0 down with ten men on the pitch, he decided to substitute our two forwards for a defender and a midfielder. Was he hoping to secure a 1-0 defeat as "damage limitation"? We are out so we might as well prepare for Euro 2004 and bring on the young guns of Olic and Vranjes
Paul Marijetic, Croatia

The match against Mexico was clearly an embarrassment to Croatia. The Croatian team has many skilled and experienced players who were obviously not playing to their potential against Mexico. However once a few changes take place and the midfield area is sorted out they can and will do better.

" The older players didn't have the energy to move at all! "
Tiffany Tong, US

It was the biggest disappointment ever when I watched the Mexico game. It is so sad to see so many talented players not play to their full potential. It was painful to see them just standing there waiting for the ball to come to them when the ball was ten feet away and Mexican defenders were zeroing in already.

I didn't understand why everybody was making such a big deal about the age of the Croatian team but now I see why - the older players didn't have the energy to move at all! I think a major factor was the humid weather. But of course that is not nearly the biggest problem. They just don't have the same passion they had in '98. Their midfield was non-existent once Mexico managed to contain Nico Kovac.

I waited four years to see them repeat their glory and I pray they do not become just another lost and forgotten footnote in the history of the World Cup. !!!
Tiffany Tong, US

" The midfield area is the real concern "

Croatia are just a bunch of old guys who were clearly dominated by a more intelligent and athletic Mexican side.
Pramoedya, England

The midfield area is the real concern. Passing and retention of possession was a big problem for Croatia. Niko Kovac and Soldo are good defensive midfielders, but there is no creativity in the team. Prosinecki should be benched and used only if and when required.

Up front, questions remain concerning Boksic. Does he, like Prosinecki and Suker, have the necessary stamina, strength, and speed to trouble teams for the full 90 minutes? Maybe he should be used in a super-sub capacity. Lets remember Croatia do have talented alternatives in Balaban, Olic and Vlaovic who can provide much needed strength and pace in attack.They are going to have to change their approach and play with more passion, commitment, and creativity. Jozic take note.

Jozic needs to take blame for such uninspiring defensive tactics. It seems stupid that the two strikers that scored the most goals in qualifying are we're sitting on the bench the entire game.
Rob, Australia

I don't understand why they substitute Suker and Boskic for Saric and Stanic. I don't get it. Suker and Boskic are the guys that will score. They need to be on.
Oliver Brkin, Canada

Croatia used to be a very strong and powerful team but since the end of the 90s they've lost their way. They need to rediscover their former striking ability and build on their impressive defensive record.
Toby Lovell, England

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