Viduka to put friendships aside
Qantas Socceroo captain Mark Viduka will need to overcome personal friendships with several players from Croatia, when the two teams meet in Thursday’s do or die World Cup group match in Stuttgart, Germany.
Qantas Socceroo captain Mark Viduka will need to overcome personal friendships with several players from Croatia, when the two teams meet in Thursday-s do or die World Cup group match in Stuttgart, Germany.
Croatian coach Zlatko Kranjcar has reportedly included Stjepan Tomas as the replacement for suspended Robert Kovac to mark Viduka, who also happens to be is one of Viduka-s best friends from their days as Dinamo Zagreb together.
"He has been a good friend of mine," said Viduka, after the players had a relaxed session, where they played some fun games including soccer volleyball.
"When I came to Zagreb, we were both on our own, his parents at the time were in a refugee camp of the war. “We were living next to each other and hanging out every day and he-s very special."
"I am happy for him that he‘s going to be playing, because everybody wants to play in the World Cup."
Asked if he thought this might be a plan to get inside his head a little bit, Viduka brushed it off.
"No, I don-t think so. Look Robert Kovac got the two yellow cards and it was a situation of having to put in a replacement and he (Tomas) is a good defender."
Viduka knows many of the Croatian players plus the coach, who was his first coach at Zagreb.
"I know quite a few of them," Viduka said. "Obviously the Aussie boys I know, I have known some of them from my AIS days."
"Obviously I know the coach, because he was my first coach when I went to Zagreb, his son (Niko), if I keep the list going, I think we-ll be here all day."
Viduka admits the match will be special, but not just because it-s against the team of his heritage.
"Very special; It-s a very special game because first of all we can go further in the World Cup," he said. "Secondly obviously because of my heritage it-s very special, but for me the most important is going forward and going through to the next round."
He has no doubts that it will be a tough match and given that both teams are very similar in style, he wants to see some commonsense in the officiating.
"I rate them very highly," he said of Croatia. "Look they flew through their group stages to qualify for the World Cup."
"Realistically if you look at the FIFA rankings, where they are and where we are, they are a lot further ahead than we are and they are not to be taken lightly."
"I hope it-s not a rough game, I don-t think it will be a rough game" Viduka said hopefully. "But there is a lot at stake for us and for them and sometimes those sorts of games get fiery."
"Everybody wants to win, we both want to win. A little bit of commonsense I think will be needed."
Viduka, who went narrowly close to scoring against Brazil, will be extra keen to get his name among the scorers on Thursday.
"It would be quality. It would be a personal pleasure lets put it that way," Viduka added.