Fans give hero's welcome to Croatia
Published : Tuesday, 17 July, 2018 at 12:56 PM Count : 3563
Croatia team has returned home without World Cup champion trophy but received endless love and warm reception of fans.
Around half-a-million fans poured in the streets of the country's northwestern capital Zagreb on Monday and staged the World Cup football team a hero's welcome despite losing in Sunday's World Cup final, reports beinsports.
Croatia coach Zlatko Dalic has undoubted individual quality but few expected Croatia to go as far as they did in Russia.
Croatia's preparations for the tournament were by no means perfect, considering Dalic was only appointed as the replacement for the sacked Ante Cacic last October with one last qualification group game to go.
He ultimately led them into the play-offs and then to Russia, where they picked up three wins in the group stage – including a brilliant 3-0 triumph over Argentina.
Penalty shoot-out victories over Denmark and Russia followed in the last 16 and quarter-finals, respectively, before a 2-1 win against England in extra-time saw them reach their first ever World Cup final.
They came unstuck in the final, losing 4-2 to France, but the disappointing end did not dampen the spirits of those at home.
According to the welcoming ceremony's presenter, local police estimated 550,000 people - well over 10 per cent of the country's 4.2 million population - took to the streets of capital city Zagreb throughout the day to see their heroes return, with the Croatia team travelling from the airport in an open-top bus.
A route that would usually take approximately 30 minutes took them over four hours, as the Croatian public greeted them as if they were royalty.
Although Croatia's Russia adventure did not end with success, they are clearly seen as champions in the eyes of the public.