Srna prepares for emotional return against Czech Republic

Croatia captain Darijo Srna is ready to face the Czech Republic in St Etienne on Friday having returned to Euro 2016 following his father's funeral.

"I’m fit for the match, I’m ready," the veteran full-back told reporters Thursday. "Everybody knows my father's last wish was (for me) just to play and win as much as possible with the Croatian national team."

Srna's father died around the time of Croatia's opening Group D victory over Turkey on Sunday - though the player was only told of the death afterwards.

"They’ve given me support every single moment since I heard the news," he said, referring to his team-mates, coaches and officials in the Croatia camp.

Coach Ante Cacic accompanied the player to the funeral and was in no doubt that he would be ready for the match.

"Srna is perfectly fit, he will be the captain tomorrow and of course he will be in the starting line-up," he said.

Another win against the Czechs, who lost their opener to Spain, would surely mean qualification to the knockout phase for Croatia but a tough contest is expected.

"The Czech Republic are a real quality team," Cacic said. "I expect my players to be focused for the 90 minutes and I expect the result to be positive for us.

"I think we can play and win against every single team in the Euros."

The Czechs meanwhile feel that after losing their opening game, a second defeat could be fatal to their hopes of escaping the group.

"This is a very important game for us," coach Pavel Vrba said. "We have no points and might need four to progress. If we should lose tomorrow, our chance will reduce.

Veteran Tomas Rosicky, who is playing despite having hardly featured for Arsenal last season due to injury, was hopeful the performance against Spain could offer a springboard.

"We can build on many positive things from the Spain game," he said. "We just have to increase our offense. We want to play further forwards against Croatia."

Last update: Thu, 16/06/2016 - 23:23
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