Kranjcar - We're aiming high
Croatia midfielder sets sights on semi-final spot
Last Updated: June 12, 2012 10:20am
Niko Kranjcar: Confident Croatia can upset the odds to reach the Euro 2012 semi-finals
Niko Kranjcar believes Croatia can make it through to at least the semi-finals of Euro 2012 after kicking off their campaign with a victory over Republic of Ireland.
Slaven Bilic's side produced an impressive performance in their Group C opener to take a step towards qualifying for the next round, but they still have a lot of work to do in their next two games.
Clashes against group heavyweights Italy and Spain lie ahead, but Kranjcar is already looking beyond them to the possibility of reaching the quarter-finals and then the last four.
"We are aiming high," the midfielder, who last week left Tottenham to join Dynamo Kiev, said in the Daily Express.
"We are a nation that believes, even in a group with Italy and Spain, that we can go through. Not many nations would say that.
"We believe we are going to prove we are a team that can beat anybody on our day. Hopefully, then, euphoria will take us further, a step closer than four years ago, because we want to reach the semi-finals at least.
"We know that nobody expects us to beat Italy and Spain, except us. But we believe in ourselves, in our quality. And that we have a team and individuals who can win us these matches."
Kranjcar admits that he expected a stern test against the Irish and was surprised that Giovanni Trapattoni's men did not carry more of an attacking threat, although he is not ruling them out of the battle for a top-two spot just yet.
"I expected more of Ireland," he said. "But they did concede three goals in the worst time in the game - the beginning and end of the first half and the beginning of the second. So it wasn't easy for them.
"But I felt they would cause us more problems in open play, which they didn't. Their only chances were from set pieces
"They are going to find it tough in the next two games. But knowing them, they will give it everything.
"They are a team that has proved they are really hard to beat and with the pride that we all know Ireland have I think they are going to step it up. I hope so."