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Croatia keeper Stipe Pletikosa insists that he is going into the World Cup full of confidence.

"Perhaps people won't believe me, but I'm not nervous and the big games at the World Cup hold no fear for me," said the Hajduk Split shot-stopper.

Pletikosa was third-choice goalkeeper in the 1998 World Cup side, and did not get a game as the debut nation finished third.

He is therefore familiar with the atmosphere of a major tournament, but admits that he will be happier after he has got his hands on the ball for the first time.

"We goalkeepers are always under the magnifying glass. Our mistakes are always shown to be much worse - and much harder to forget.

"The first few balls are the most important. Once you have picked them up, it gets a lot easier," he said.

One area that Pletikosa was anxious about was in how difficult it would be to adjust to the conditions and the time difference in Japan - but his fears have proved unfounded.

"I go to bed at around 2am every night, and I'm waking up around 10am - so I'm sleeping like a baby.

"Many players frightened me about what the conditions would be like here, but it has been really easy for me to adapt."

Pletikosa believes that Italy's goalkeepers are sound, but that Croatia should be able to exploit some weaknesses in the game of his Mexican and Ecuadorian rivals.

"It doesn't matter who plays in goal for the Italy team, Francesco Toldo and Gianluigi Buffo are as good as each other. Italy have always had great goalkeepers, and these two are no exception.

"As for Mexico and Ecuador, they are typical of Spanish-influenced goalkeepers. They are good shot-stoppers and have quick reactions, but they struggle with shots from distance and claiming crosses," said Pletikosa.

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I hope he's really as fearless as he claims. I'm sure some will see this as Pleta-bashing but in the junior tournament a few years ago, he really didn't play all that well. Sure he was younger then and inexperienced, but then so were the rest of the players in the tournament so it's no excuse.

He says the Mexicans and Ecuadorians struggle claiming crosses but then that's his weakest point as well.

Hopefully he doesn't let the pressure get to him. He's played in big games since that tournament and improved a lot. He's great except for his authority in the box but he will improve on that, just a matter of time. This WC will be very important for him at such a young age and as long as he maintains good communication with the defence, he should do well.
 

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Pleta wasn't at France 98, our keepers were Ladic, Mrmic and Vasilj. More shoddy reporting, I have to wonder how much of the press about other teams is true of fabricated due to bad research?
 

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Great article except that Mrmic and not Pleta was the 3rd string goalie in 98. It may as well have been Pleta since niether stood any chance of seeing any game time.
 

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Pletikosa makes me nervous.

i hope he doesnt mess up...
 

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no worries mate

For those of you nervous about Pleta taking charge in the Box. Here's a pic of him picking one out of the air vs. Varteks.
 

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Re: no worries mate

baraba said:
For those of you nervous about Pleta taking charge in the Box. Here's a pic of him picking one out of the air vs. Varteks.
hmm...he is faced towards the goal ;-)


but he is good goalkeeper anyway, I have no doubts with Pletikosa
 

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This guy was voted one of the 3 best young keepers in Europe when he played with the junior NT's....I love that he is confident..the great ones always are.
 

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i'm never confident with Croatian goalkeepers....whether it's Ladic, Gabric or Pletikosa.

I hope Pletikosa can handle the pressure. He was the reason why Croatia never qualified for the Olimpics here in Sydney. But with the defence he has infront of him, i'm fairly confident in him....except when we concede corners. :(
 

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I saw Vedran Runje playing on Fox Sports World and I can tell you that he is hell of a goalie!
He is GOOD!
 
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