Croatia, Morocco target third-place medal at World Cup

Dec 14, 2022, 9:04 PM | Updated: Dec 15, 2022, 11:05 am
Croatia's Andrej Kramaric kicks the ball during the World Cup group F soccer match between Croatia ...

Croatia's Andrej Kramaric kicks the ball during the World Cup group F soccer match between Croatia and Belgium at the Ahmad Bin Ali Stadium in Al Rayyan, Qatar, Thursday, Dec. 1, 2022. (AP Photo/Francisco Seco)

(AP Photo/Francisco Seco)

              Croatia's Andrej Kramaric kicks the ball during the World Cup group F soccer match between Croatia and Belgium at the Ahmad Bin Ali Stadium in Al Rayyan, Qatar, Thursday, Dec. 1, 2022. (AP Photo/Francisco Seco)
            
              Croatia's Andrej Kramaric kicks the ball during the World Cup group F soccer match between Croatia and Belgium at the Ahmad Bin Ali Stadium in Al Rayyan, Qatar, Thursday, Dec. 1, 2022. (AP Photo/Francisco Seco)
            
              Croatia's Andrej Kramaric celebrates after scoring his side's opening goal during the World Cup group F soccer match between Croatia and Canada, at the Khalifa International Stadium in Doha, Qatar, Sunday, Nov. 27, 2022. (AP Photo/Aijaz Rahi)

DOHA, Qatar (AP) — The chances of the winning the World Cup might have gone for Croatia and Morocco, but “immortality” is at stake when the two teams meet in Saturday’s third-place playoff.

Croatia forward Andrej Kramaric dispelled the notion it would be a meaningless contest at Khalifa International Stadium.

“I think if you ask this question to Moroccan players, I don’t think they will look that way,” he said at a news conference Thursday. “They’re fighting for their lives because if you win a medal at a World Cup you become an immortal hero in your country. That’s the same thing we are going to do.”

Morocco defied the odds to become the first African team to reach the World Cup semifinals. But the Atlas Lions’ run came to an end with a 2-0 loss to defending champions France on Wednesday.

Croatia reached the final in Russia in 2018, but suffered a 3-0 loss to Argentina on Tuesday.

“Eight of us from (the tournament in) Russia understand that feeling of winning a medal at the World Cup and we have a lot of players who haven’t experienced that and would love to do that because it’s something that will stay with you for the rest of their life,” Kramaric said.

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James Robson is at https://twitter.com/jamesalanrobson

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AP World Cup coverage: https://apnews.com/hub/world-cup and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports

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Croatia, Morocco target third-place medal at World Cup