Kovac relishing Argentina test

Croatia head coach Niko Kovac is relishing the prospect of seeing how his side shape up against Argentina at the Boleyn Ground.

Speaking exclusively to whufc.com, Kovac said he is looking forward to seeing his players take on the 2014 FIFA World Cup runners-up in east London on Wednesday 12 November at 7.45pm.

With Argentina naming a full-strength squad including the likes of Lionel Messi, Carlos Tevez, Javier Mascherano, Gonzalo Higuain and Angel di Maria, the 43-year-old former Croatia midfielder knows his side will have to be at their best to match the South Americans.


"It is a big honour to play against Argentina, one of the great football nations," said Kovac. "They showed their class during World Cup where they played in a final, so this will be a fantastic challenge for our team.

"Everybody knows the quality of players like Di Maria, Mascherano or Tevez, not to even mention the world's best player, Lionel Messi. However, Croatia plays its best against biggest opponents and I'm sure both teams will please the crowd with their playing styles."

Croatia have bounced back from a group-stage exit at this summer's World Cup finals in Brazil - where they pushed the host nation to the limit before going down 3-1 to two late goals - to win their opening three 2016 UEFA European Championship qualifiers.

With Kovac preparing his side for a huge qualifying tie with Italy in Milan on Sunday 16 November, the former Bayer Leverkusen and Bayern Munich player is hoping to raise confidence still further by defeating Gerardo Martino's star-studded squad.

Having beaten Argentina - including Messi - himself as a player in 2006, Kovac would love lightning to strike twice at the historic home of West Ham United.

"I experienced one friendly win against Argentina as a player in 2006 - we overcame a brilliant game from Messi - and I look forward to try to do the same as a coach," continued the man who scored Croatia's opening goal in their 4-2 defeat by England at Euro 2004.

"These are the games with no pressure, where you can show your worth and enjoy the challenge of playing against a great team - that's why this match is going to be a spectacle for both teams and fans at Boleyn Ground."