Croatia defender Vedran Corluka has denied his side will be out for revenge when they meet Turkey for a place at next year's European Championship finals. Turkey memorably beat Croatia on penalties in a pulsating UEFA EURO 2008 quarter-final that Corluka admits was one of the worst days of his career.
Croatia had looked set to be heading for the last four when Ivan Klasnic netted the game's opening goal in penultimate minute in extra time. But Semih Senturk equalised with the final touch before Turkey won the tie on penalties. "It was one of the saddest days of my life, and for Croatia as well," Corluka told www.uefa.com ahead of the first leg of their play-off in Istanbul tomorrow night.
"We just need to forget about that, it's a new game and we should play like that never happened. If we let our feelings lead us through this game, it won't be good - we just need to keep a cool head. There is no extra motivation, only the motivation to go to EURO 2012."
Croatia boss Slaven Bilic echoed his defender's comments, adding: "Revenge is an ugly word, and I don't want to use it because the Turks won fair and square. They didn't cheat their way into the semi-finals. They scored a brilliant goal and showed their character, so our motive is to qualify for Euro 2012, not revenge."
Turkey manager Guus Hiddink is two games away from fulfilling the primary objective he was tasked with when he took over the reins two years ago. The Dutchman has a good record of taking national teams to finals, having led Russia to the semi-finals of EURO 2008, and believes a good result at the Turk Telekom Arena tomorrow night is vital.
"The return leg [in Zagreb] will be tense and tough," he said. "Though I don't want to think about it, the fact of the matter is that we will also be under pressure. But we have to overcome this and instead pile pressure on the Croats and force them to make mistakes. Fan support will also be very necessary in this regard."