Even though Mario Mandukic scored many crucial goals for Croatia during his career, the one he scored in extra time of the World Cup semi-final against England stands out as the most memorable. Find out why the veteran striker is missing from the Qatar 2022 World Cup
There’s a good mix of seasoned veterans and up-and-comers, and not all of them are young stars, so it’s possible that Croatia’s 2022 squad could be even stronger than their 2018 finalist counterparts. What’s more, Luka Modric is ready for another World Cup dance cup and still reigns supreme with Ivan Perisic, Marcel Brozovic and Dejan Lovren in his side, but the rest of the group has been reassessed and reinvigorated.
Only nine of the 2018 runners-up made the final roster for the 2022 World Cup in Qatar, a promising sign considering the Checkered Ones have been operating with a revamped squad for most of the way into the tournament. Many new arrivals, such as Mario Pasalic and Josko Gvardiol, proved their worth immediately.
However, the presence of Modrić, Mateo Kovačić and Brozović in the center makes the Croatians a formidable opponent. The three have more than 300 caps between them. Also this time the teams have more members, which is great news considering the size of the country.
Why is Mario Mandzukic missing the Qatar 2022 World Cup?
The international football career of Mario Mandzukic ended on August 14, 2018. He retired as Croatia’s all-time number-two goalscorer with 33 goals. As a stalwart of his national team, he scored twice in the 4-2 loss to France in the 2018 World Cup Final and scored the game-winning goal in extra time against England in the Semi-Final.
“We have made our dreams come true, achieved a historic success, and experienced unbelievable support. That month, including the welcome in Zagreb, Slavonski Brod, and the entire Croatia, will remain the most important memory of my career. This has been the most beautiful national team journey, and my favourite return to homeland.
“I am more than happy, fulfilled, and extremely proud of this silver, that has been forged through years, through pain, effort, work, disappointment, and difficult moments. There is no ideal moment to retire. If possible, we would all play for Croatia until we die, since there is no prouder feeling, but I feel this moment has come for me – now. I’ve given my best for Croatia, I have contributed to the biggest success of Croatian football”, he said after announcing his national team retirement.
Mario Mandzukic then hung up his boots from soccer at the age of 35 in September 2021. Shortly after, it was announced that the former striker was officially added to the coaching staff of the Croatian national team. He has since been working with the head coach, Zlatko Dalic. In 89 games for the Checkered Ones, the former Juventus, Atletico Madrid, Bayern, and Milan striker scored 33 goals. He is just 45 goals behind Davor Suker for second all-time among Croatian goalscorers.