Real Madrid midfield star Luka Modric will take over as Croatia captain in their opening qualifier against Turkey early next month, coach Ante Cacic said on Monday.
“Modric will be our new captain,” Cacic said announcing the successor to longterm squad leader Darijo Srna, who plays for Shakhtar Donetsk, for the September 5 match at home.
“We have the role of the favourite and we will do everything to justify it,” Cacic said in a statement.
“I believe we will not be hampered by the fact that we are playing without fans against both Turkey and Island.”
FIFA has ordered Croatia to play two World Cup qualifying matches in empty stadiums for repeated chanting of fascist slogans by fans.
Modric echoed Cacic’s view and said he expected a win despite absence of supporters.
“It is a great honour to be the new Croatia captain,” Modric said, quoted by local media, as the squad gathered in the capital Zagreb.
“The fact that we are playing in front of empty stands should not be an alibi ... We want a victory and a successful start,” the 30-year-old added.
Apart from Croatia and Turkey, Group I features Finland, Iceland, Kosovo and Ukraine.
Despite Croatia’s attractive performances at Euro 2016 they were eliminated by Portugal at the last-16 stage in extra time.