Bilić counting down to Vienna opener
Slaven Bilić says he is "99 per cent focused" on Croatia's UEFA EURO 2008™ opener against Austria as his side prepares to face Hungary in their final warm-up friendly this evening.
Croatia left their training camp in the Slovenian resort of Čatež on Friday to travel to Budapest, where they will encounter a Hungary side buoyed by their 3-2 defeat of European champions Greece last Saturday. After that, Croatia will have Sunday off and train in Zagreb on Tuesday before decamping to their Austrian base in Bad Tatzmannsdorf on Tuesday.
"We did a good job with the preparations, the boys are great," said Bilić. "We didn't have many problems, all players are ready and the list of 23 players remained the same as in the beginning. We are 99 per cent focused on our first [Group B] match against Austria. We are also looking at Germany and Poland, but Austria is definitely our priority."
The match against Erwin Koeman's Hungary will be Croatia's final friendly, having already overcome Moldova 1-0. Bilić has revealed he will field a near full-strength lineup and wants his players to treat the match like a competitive fixture given its proximity to the finals. "It's our last test; we have to be in top form, like we are already playing at EURO," he added. "The team who run out on the pitch against Hungary will probably also play against Austria [on 8 June]. There are no secrets, everyone knows what our team looks like."
Captain Niko Kovač headed the only goal against Moldova and is in confident mood ahead of the tournament. The FC Salzburg midfielder is, though, urging his team-mates not to lose focus on an Austria squad that has endured a series of indifferent friendly results since their last competitive international in October 2005.
"I have a good feeling about this EURO," said the 36-year-old. "The preparations were excellent and against Hungary in the friendly match, we will show what we can do. We also must not underestimate Austria and we have to respect them, although I believe we can only defeat ourselves in that match. If we don't take them seriously we can lose."