MANAUS, Brazil (AP) — One week into the tournament, Croatia is really about to get its World Cup going.
The Croats head into Wednesday's Group A match against Cameroon knowing that their opening loss to Brazil means nothing if they can win both of their remaining Group A matches. The same, however, goes for the Cameroonians.
"We know what this mean to us, both to us and Cameroon," Croatia coach Niko Kovac said Tuesday. "Everybody can do math. Let's not dwell on that."
The Croats lost to Brazil 3-1 in the opening World Cup match on Thursday, but the host country's second goal came after a controversial penalty, a decision Kovac called "shameful."
The team has been trying to get past that distraction, and the added distraction of some published photos of nude players, heading into the match against Cameroon at the Arena da Amazonia.
"Realistically speaking, games Nos. 2 and 3 mean more to us because these are our competitors for second place," Kovac said. "I'm convinced that we are going to win tomorrow's game."
If either team wins its two remaining matches, it is guaranteed a spot in the second round. A loss on Wednesday, however, leads to instant elimination because both Brazil and Mexico already have four points in the group after Tuesday's 0-0 draw.
In their final group matches on Monday, Croatia will face Mexico and Cameroon will take on Brazil.
"If we were to play in the same way that we played against Brazil, I don't see why we wouldn't have any chances of progressing," Kovac said.