Despite a heartbreaking defeat by Turkey at UEFA EURO 2008, Vedran Ćorluka told UEFA.com Croatia's only motivation against the same team is a place at next summer's finals.
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Vedran Ćorluka was a member of the Croatia side knocked out of UEFA EURO 2008 on penalties by Turkey, yet he told UEFA.com his team need "no extra motivation" ahead of their play-off tie against the same opponents, other than the prospect of a place at the final tournament.
Ćorluka is one of nine Croatia players who faced Turkey in June 2008 and have also taken part in the current qualifying campaign. While conceding that the quarter-final loss represents one of his most disappointing moments in football, the right-back is determined to focus on the present – and not use revenge as inspiration.
"It was a sad day for Croatia and I still can't believe we lost that game," said Ćorluka, whose side took a 119th-minute lead in Vienna, only to be pegged back straight away before losing the ensuing shoot-out 3-1. "It was one of the saddest days of my life, and for Croatia as well," he added.
We just need to forget about that, it's a new game and we should play like that never happened. If we let our feelings lead us through this game, it won't be good – we just need to keep a cool head." The Tottenham Hotspur FC defender is adamant about how Slaven Bilić's team should approach the play-off: "There is no extra motivation, only the motivation to go to EURO."
With 51 caps, former GNK Dinamo Zagreb and Manchester City FC man Ćorluka is one of the more experienced members of a Croatia squad who, he says, will have to be at their best in front of a passionate Istanbul crowd in Friday's away first leg. "It will be tough, but when the game starts you forget about the fans, about everything – you just concentrate on the game and play the best you can," he said. "I don't think we will be scared of the atmosphere in Istanbul."
The 25-year-old featured in all ten of Croatia's Group F qualifiers and said that, given the talent at their disposal, his side should have made sure of automatic progress to Poland and Ukraine. "When I see the players we have, maybe we should have topped the group, but we didn't play well enough," conceded Ćorluka, the memory of Croatia's ultimately decisive 2-0 reverse in Greece in their penultimate qualifier still fresh. "In some of the matches, like against Greece, we didn't play well and now we need to be better if we want to beat Turkey."