The acting head coach of Ingulets, Mladen Bartulovich, spoke in an exclusive interview with Sport.ua about the success of the Croatian national team at the 2022 World Cup, and also commented on the first steps as a mentor of the team from Petrovo.
– Mladen, our congratulations! The Croatian national team took third place at the World Cup in Qatar. What emotions did you experience from such an achievement?
– Of course, I felt proud at the moment when Croatia was again able to achieve such a good result and showed that it is a strong team. The Croats showed a good game at this World Cup. Of course, I felt proud, like every Croatian, I think.
— What do relatives and friends from Croatia say? Were the festivities in the country the same as in 2018? Is bronze perceived as silver?
– Well, my relatives told me that, of course, they celebrated the third place in Croatia a lot. In 2018, Croatia took second place at the World Cup in the summer and this time was somehow more suitable for celebration. And, of course, second place is second place. This is a very big success. But the third place was also very well celebrated, despite the cold weather in Croatia. My relatives and friends said that it was a lot of fun during the celebrations.
– Was the third place the maximum at this World Cup or could the Croats still reach the final?
– I think that the Croats can be satisfied with the third place. Because such a small country achieves such remarkable results for the second World Cup in a row. Second place in 2018, third place in 2022. This is a very big success and one should be pleased with it. I think that this was the maximum at this World Cup. Although football is unpredictable. It was possible to beat Argentina, as a result reaching the final. But, I think that the third place is a very big success.
– Who and how from the Croatian national team did you congratulate on the success at the World Cup?
– Congratulated Ivan Perisic via text message.
Getty Images/Global Images Ukraine. Ivan Perisic
– Which of the players of the Croatian national team can you single out at the World Cup?
– To be honest, the whole team can be singled out. Croatia achieved the result with a team game. But, of course, like everyone else, I will single out Modric, Guardiol and Livakovic. These are the players who really stand out, especially Guardiol and Livakovic.
– What qualities do you note in the captain of the Croatian national team Luka Modric?
– He is a real captain, leader and star of this team. He showed it once again at this World Cup. Modric led the team behind him and led the Croatian national team to another success. Just a good guy. And he is a real legend of Croatian football. Probably the biggest legend.
– Your debut as the head coach of Ingulets was in the match against Dynamo. How did you set up the team? Although you lost, you fought and scored a goal.
– To make my debut on the coaching bridge with a match against Dynamo and against Lucescu was a real test for me. It was easy for me to set the guys up for this game. I believe that we showed a decent game in this match, despite the fact that we lost. We had our moments, and we showed good football in the match against Dynamo. I was very pleased with the game against Dynamo.
– Then followed the debut victory of “Ingulets” over “Lviv” …
– With Lviv, it was probably the key game of the first round for us. In this match, it was determined: either we go down, or we will rise a little in the UPL standings. Of course, I set the team up only to win the match against Lviv. And I was sure that we will achieve this victory on the home field. So in the end it turned out. I believe that we deservedly beat the Lions in that match.
— Before the holidays, you also managed to win the match against the strong Veres. Was the match difficult too?
— We understood that we were in for a tough game, considering also the complexity of the field. I understood the state in which Veres was coming to us, because they had a losing streak. I understood that they would be maximally tuned. But for us this game was also very important. These three points are very important for us and for the future of the team. For the second round, this gives us more confidence and a chance to climb even higher in the UPL standings. We are very glad that, in principle, we completed the first round on a positive note.
– How do you assess the current position of Ingulets in the UPL standings? You are in 14th place with 13 points.
– I think that we could, of course, perform better in the first round and be a little higher in the standings. But there is, as is. We are waiting for a lot of games in the second round. I think our standings can be corrected in the second round and rise even higher.
What are your plans for the off-season?
We are going in mid-January. At the end of January, we plan to start training camps in Turkey. Now we are dealing with logistics, all these issues. I hope that everything will work out for us, and we will be able to have a good training camp.
– Is it planned to strengthen the composition of Ingulets?
– My main task is to keep those players that I have in the team. And, of course, we will look for options on how to strengthen the team. We are looking for players and considering options for who we can strengthen. Of course, we will try to sign players who can strengthen us.
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