Friends Face in Stuttgart

Stuttgart Stadium
Croatia coach Zlatko Kranjcar might have been speaking in earnest this week when he said, "For me, it's only a football game - Croatia against Australia and nothing more," but to many of his and Guus Hiddink's players, tomorrow's match in Stuttgart will be anything but just another game.

Quite aside from the fact that a place in the round of 16 is still within reach for both sides, the links between both nations, and squads, are strong and several, with no less than seven Socceroos - captain Mark Viduka, Jason Culina, Tony Popovic, Josip Skoko, Ante Covic, Zeljko Kalac and Marco Bresciano - boasting Croatian ancestry.

It’s not all one-way, either, with three of the Croatian squad - Josip Simunic, Joey Didulica and Anthony Seric – not only having been born and raised in Australia, but schooled at the famous Australian Institute of Sport that produced, among others, the likes of Viduka and Harry Kewell.

Consequently, several friendships are set to be put on the line. "It will be quality, personally for me,” Viduka said this week. “I obviously know all the players in the Croatia team and it would be a personal pleasure to score, put it that way."

(Source: FIFA)

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