Vol. 5 Num 694 Sat. May 13, 2006  

Croatia squad as expected

Croatia coach Zlatko Kranjcar announced on Friday an expected 24-man squad for the World Cup in Germany next month where he said he hoped his team would reach the second round at least.

'I earlier said I would pick the players who carried the burden of qualifying so I've had a pretty clear picture of who to choose for some time,' Kranjcar told a news conference.

He will send his official 23-name list to FIFA but will also take Dinamo Zagreb defender Marijan Buljat to Germany as injury cover as injured players can be replaced up to a day before teams' first matches.

In the group stage Croatia face Brazil, Australia and Japan and Kranjcar said he saw his team progressing.

'I can feel a great team spirit in the squad and I think we're well capable of doing it,' he said.

Croatia will play four friendlies ahead of the World Cup. They first play in Vienna against Austria on May 23 followed by a home game against Iran on May 28. Then come Poland on June 3 in Wolfsburg, Germany and Spain on June 7 in Geneva.

Goalkeepers: Tomislav Butina (Club Bruges), Stipe Pletikosa (Hajduk Split), Joe Didulica (Austria Vienna)

Defenders: Robert Kovac (Juven-tus), Stjepan Tomas (Galatasaray), Dario Simic (AC Milan), Mario Tokic (Austria Vienna), Josip Simunic (Hertha Berlin), Igor Tudor (Siena), Marijan Buljat (Dinamo Zagreb)

Midfielders: Jerko Leko (Dynamo Kiev), Niko Kranjcar (Hajduk Split), Niko Kovac (Hertha Berlin), Marko Babic (Bayer Leverkusen), Darijo Srna (Shakhtar Donetsk), Ivan Leko (Club Bruges), Luka Modric (Dinamo Zagreb), Jurica Vranjes (Werder Bremen), Anthony Seric (Panathinaikos)

Forwards: Dado Prso (Rangers), Ivan Klasnic (Werder Bremen), Bosko Balaban (Club Bruges), Ivica Olic (CSKA Moscow), Ivan Bosnjak (Dinamo Zagreb).