Croatia coach Zlatko Dalic told his players they should be proud of their sensational World Cup run and their performance in the final on Sunday, 15 July, despite losing 4-2 to France at the Luzhniki Stadium.
The Croatia players were given a standing ovation by their fans after taking the game to the French for the entire 90 minutes, dominating much of the match but falling to an own goal, a penalty awarded by VAR and two second-half strikes.
The 51-year-old gathered his players in a circle on the pitch and told them they should in no way consider the defeat a failure.
“Of course, we are downcast, but I told them ‘hold your heads up high. You have no reason to feel dissatisfied, you have given your all and you have to be proud of your performances at this tournament’,” he told a news conference.
“Chin up lads, if somebody had offered us to be runners-up at the start of the tournament, that would have been fantastic”.
“‘Sometimes in football you lose, that’s football, but we were dignified in our victories and we must be dignified in defeat, we have to respect the scoreline,’ that was the message to my players.”