Former Croatia and West Ham manager Slaven Bilić has admitted that Croatia are facing a difficult clash playing against Nigeria in the 2018 Russia World Cup.
The Fiery Ones are paired alongside Nigeria, two-time World Cup champions Argentina, and heroic European Cinderella team Iceland in Group D of the biggest global football tournament which will be staged in Russia next summer.
Bilic who won the 1998 World Cup bronze medals with Croatia insists the team are in a difficult group, and more so they will be playing Nigeria in their opening clash.
Bilic, who last managed West Ham United before he was axed on November 4 after Hammers’ 1-4 disastrous home loss to Liverpool, believes the World Cup have not been kind to Croatia after they were drawn to face Nigeria.
The 1998 World Cup bronze medalists are also up against two-time world champions Argentina and Europe’s Cinderella team Iceland, a tiny country that showed their strength at Euro 2016.
”It seems to me that it is not sufficiently recognized the weight of our group and especially the negativity of the schedule. We have a difficult group and the worst possible match schedule,” Bilić told Sportske Novosti.
”Nigeria at the start when it is, by tradition, the strongest and most difficult. Argentina have a decisive squad, and it would be better if it was in the third when we might have already settled the placement.
”The Icelanders are the third rival, but they have a mentality that even if they have already crashed out, and perhaps just because of that, playing as if their life depends on that encounter. ”
Nigeria and Croatia open their tournament at Kaliningrad Stadium, Kaliningrad on June 16, before Croatia lock horn with Argentina and finally Iceland.