CROATIA boss Zlatko Dalic went on an incredible Jose Mourinho-style rant accusing Canada’s John Herdman of lacking respect after his F-word taunt.
Following their narrow 1-0 loss to Belgium, Canada head coach Herdman said: “I told [the players] they belong here and we’re going to ‘F’ Croatia. That’s as simple as it gets.”
In response, a Croatian tabloid photoshopped Herdman’s face onto a naked body with just two Canadian maple leaves covering his mouth and groin.
The headline read: “You have the mouth, but do you have the balls as well?”
Durham-born Herdman, 47, laughed off the mock-up, having been made aware of it by his wife – but raging Dalic has demanded more respect, using the word 11 times in one answer.
Ahead of their Group F clash on Sunday, Dalic said: “The Croatian team deserves respect from everyone. We have proven that by the way we played and our conduct during the World Cup.
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“Since the very beginning, we have deserved respect and dignity. We have two medals in the last 30 years. Only Germany and France have such achievements.
“We respect everyone equally so we expect opposing teams to respect us. We are worthy of their respect. The Canadians must have respect for us.
“This way of putting words together is not a sign of respect. We are [World Cup] runners-up.
“We are second in the world and we are worthy of respect in the way we play, behave and respect all others. They are the reasons why we are worthy of respect.
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“I shall not focus on the comments. We will be prepared and fit and demonstrate respect for Canada.”
Tottenham’s Ivan Perisic added: “I second the head coach and I cannot wait for the match to begin.”
Having also failed to win in their opener – a 0-0 draw with Morocco – Croatia and Canada are in desperate need of three points to keep their knock-out hopes alive.
Herdman admitted that for his team, it is “do-or-die” and a “defining moment”, one that has not been overshadowed by this week’s media coverage.
He said: “We have been on a media blackout from November 14.
“When you get a text from your wife telling you that you need to start working out before you get home, you think you know something is going on.
“My wife is coming after you. She wishes she had that guy. I have got a bit more of a belly than that. I have been eating too much.
“We have been waiting 36 years to get to a World Cup. There is no extra motivation needed for this team.
“I have had great moments in my life that have shaped me to get to this point. I have had a colourful life. I don’t know if I am a genius but there is definitely some madness there.”
Canada midfielder Stephen Eustaquio added: “Newspapers are not going to make someone like Luka Modric play better or feel more motivated.
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“With all due respect to Croatia, they have a very good team and it is going to be tough for us, but it is going to be tough for them as well.
“We showed we could outplay Belgium so anything can happen.”
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