Croatia veteran Ivan Perisic claims he cannot wait to get stuck into Canada following their coach John Herdman’s controversial comments this week.

Croatia boss Zlatko Dalic slams Canadian coach for F-bomb and urges opponents to show 'respect'

Canada boss Herdman revealed he told his players “go and ‘eff’ Croatia” in an on-pitch huddle following their hard-fought defeat to Belgium in their World Cup opener on Wednesday.

The word ‘eff’ was widely assumed to be an abbreviation for an obscenity and it sparked furore in the Croatian media, with one newspaper mocking up a picture of a naked Herdman on its front page.

Perisic and Croatia coach Zlatko Dalic, who led his side to the World Cup final in 2018, have not been impressed by Herdman’s remarks, and accused the Englishman of disrespect at a press conference to preview Sunday’s Group F encounter between the two teams.

Addressing the issue first, Dalic said: “The Croatia team deserves respect from everyone. We have proven that by the way we have played and our conduct during the World Cup.

“We are the runners-up, second in the world. We respect everyone equally so we expect our opposing teams to respect us. This way of putting words together is not a sign of respect.”

Tottenham midfielder Perisic, sat alongside Dalic, added: “I second the head coach and I cannot wait for the match to begin.”

Croatia opened their campaign with a goalless draw against Morocco and Dalic admits his team must improve.

He said: “This will be a difficult match. We have to adopt an aggressive stance, as it will be more difficult than against Morocco. Canada are a tough team.”

Herdman, the County Durham-born former Sunderland youth coach who previously coached the Canada national women’s side, has tried to brush off the brouhaha over his comments.

He said: “We’ve been on a media blackout since November 14, so there’s not much we see in the media, but when you get a text from your wife telling you you need to start working out before you get home, you know something’s going on!

“We’re super-excited for a huge, huge match. Our team are bright and clear ready to go, and it’s going to be a defining moment for Canada in this World Cup.

“It’s one of those ‘do or die’ games that we have to we have to perform in to stay at a World Cup.”

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