CROATIA COACH Slaven Bilic has called for calm in the aftermath of his team’s opening Euro 2012 Group C match against Ireland.
Goals from Mario Mandzukic and Nikica Jelavic earned Croatia an early lead in Poznan, before Shay Given’s own-goal put helped to seal a 3-1 victory on Sunday. The victory earned Croatia rave reviews, but Bilic, who will leave the national team to coach Lokomotiv Moscow next season, is refusing to look too far ahead.
“Well, I prefer not to speak about the next round, because we are still at the beginning you know,” he said. ”We still have a great job to do, tougher test, yeah, it didn’t look easy at any point and it was very hard on the pitch.
“But the result came, we had half an hour to go, we had the cushion of two goals in front, which maybe looked to the spectators that we were all right and that we were cruising.
“But … we didn’t cruise it, they put the pressure on us in the last 15 minutes and if they had equalised with five minutes to go it would have been the longest five minutes in my life.”
Despite his admiration for Giovanni Trapattoni ‘s Ireland side, Bilic insisted Croatia’s greatest challenge will come in matches and Italy and world and European champions Spain.
“I have a big respect for Ireland and, as I have said a few days before, we needed to play a great game, we needed to be at the top of our game to beat them and we played just like that,” he said.
“With the greatest respect to them I have to say that we have two games approaching that are even bigger test, tougher tasks, because we are playing the world champions and then ex-world champions, Spain and Italy.
“We are going to need a bigger boat for that.”