The Croatian coach was raging after his side lost the opening match 3-1, with two goals from Barcelona man Neymar, but Kovac strongly felt that the scoreline was due to the wrong decisions of the referee
Croatia took the lead in the early stages of the match as Marcelo put the ball in his own net, but Brazil’s golden boy, Neymar, leveled things up soon after. Brazil got their lead in the second half when Fred easily went down easily in the penalty box after minimal pressure from Dejan Lovren. Neymar scored the penalty although Pletikosa got his hands on to it and could have saved it. Oscar scored the third goal in stoppage time to calm Brazil’s nerves but the result had been decided by then.
It was the controversial penalty decision that got Kovac and the rest of the world watching on TV fuming. Kovac was also unhappy about Neymar escaping a red card for elbowing Luka Modric in the first half. Croatia also saw a late goal disallowed when Ivica Olic was deemed to have fouled Julio Cesar.
“I don’t think anybody, anywhere in the stadium, saw this as a penalty. If you continue like this you will have 100 penalties. I think 2.5billion people watching on TV saw this was not a penalty. This was ridiculous and if we continue in this way we will have a circus. If that’s a penalty, then we can just stop playing football right now,’ said Kovac after the final whistle in Sao Paulo. Let’s play basketball instead. It’s shameful. We talk about respect, but there wasn’t any respect for Croatia. If that’s how we start the World Cup, then we may as well give up and go home now”. said Kovac
He went to criticize the referee and also claimed that Yuichi Nishimura was a ‘bad choice’ for the match because he had sent off Felipe Melo in Brazil’s 2-1 defeat to Holland in the 2010 World Cup quarter-final.
‘I must say the referee was completely out of his depth. If someone’s not up to scratch to referee the first game then find someone else. Two-and-a-half billion people saw this wasn’t a penalty.’
However, the Croatian who had stated before the match that his side were not going to be overwhelmed by Brazil’s stature in the tournament, said that he did not resent Fred for his actions.
“Fred is an 85kg man and I don’t believe he can be brought to the ground in such a manner. I cannot blame Fred at all – everyone tries it on. Like it or not, this is part and parcel of football. What I want is for referees to stick to the laws of the game and apply them equally to both teams.”
Kovac concluded that his side deserved at least a point from the game, “I would like to congratulate Brazil as they are a great opponent, but I am proud of my team.I am a sporting person and Brazil were excellent, but I believe Croatia deserved at least a point out of this game.”