Sometimes, Nikola Moro tries to do too much. At least that was the opinion expressed by Croatia coach Dario Basic after his side's 2-1 victory over Nigeria, which booked them a place in the knockout stages of the FIFA U-17 World Cup Chile 2015.
"He's our captain, our No10, the leader of the team," the Croatian tactician told FIFA.com, smiling, when asked about the talismanic playmaker. "But he focuses his attention on details that he shouldn't worry about. For example, if a problem arises among his team-mates, he is desperate to deal with it. It's in his nature.
"He wants everything to be perfect and to go smoothly. That goes for everything from the football side to what food is on the table. So I have to tell him over and over that he mustn't carry everything on his shoulders like that, that it's not good for him and prevents him from concentrating on his game."
Over and beyond the possibility of the midfielder stepping on Basic's toes with his desire to take responsibility for everything, there can be little doubt that Moro can deliver the goods when he is focusing his energies on the pitch. This was perfectly illustrated by his performance against the mighty Nigerians this Friday in Coquimbo.
*Happy to be of assistance
*The Croatians dominated the first half, only to go in a goal behind at half-time after falling victims to Victor Osimhen's pace in behind. After the break, though, Moro took the bull by the horns in true skipper's style, showcasing a combination of his class and industry to tilt the balance in his team's favour. First he exhibited some fine footwork and persistence before laying the equaliser on a plate for Josip Brekalo, and then four minutes later he served up the winner for Karlo Majic with another peach of a pass after dispossessing David Enogela.
The reigning champions were unable to recover from this quick-fire double, which owed so much to Moro's touch and vision. He shares these qualities – not to mention a shirt number – with idols such as Lionel Messi, Ronaldinho and James Rodriguez. "I'm happy to wear the No10 shirt because it's been worn by the greatest players," the attacking midfielder admitted on this note, although he was quick to add that he's "not making a big deal out of it, [because] it's just a number".
"I'm just glad to have been able to come up with two decisive passes to help the team. The only thing that matters to me is for us to play good football and win matches," he went on, oozing modesty.
So, what about his coach's comments about his penchant for overexerting himself? "As captain, I try to make sure that all my team-mates are happy. It's true that the coach often tells me that I should concentrate on my game," said the Dinamo Zagreb starlet. However, if he carries on producing such telling contributions as against Nigeria, Moro is sure to delight his fellow players and the coaching staff alike.