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Croatia coach makes pilgrimage ahead World Cup

Croatia coach Zlatko Dalic said he had completed a 120-kilometre (74-mile) pilgrimage to a Catholic sanctuary in neighbouring Bosnia less than two months ahead of the World Cup.

“Three days – 120 kilometres. Thank you Mother of God for all the blessings!

“In you, Lord, I trust!” Dalic wrote on Instagram late Tuesday after completing his pilgrimage.

The Bosnia-born coach posted a photo of himself praying in front of a statute of the Virgin Mary who is said to have appeared before six teenagers in 1981 in the small town of Medjugorje.

The 55-year-old Dalic walked from his homewtown of Livno in Bosnia along with three friends, local media reported.

The region of Medjugorje is largely populated by Bosnian Croats who mainly support the Croatia football team.

Medjugorje attracts hundreds of thousands of pilgrims every year, but the Vatican has not recognised the alleged appearances of the Virgin Mary.

Dalic, who took over Croatia in 2017, speaks publicly about his faith and has previously  made pilgrimages to Medjugorje. 

“I’ve been a believer all my life … Faith gives me strength, I always have a rosary in my pocket and I pray before the match.

“I thank God for every day, because he gave me strength and faith, but also the opportunity to do something in my life,” he told a Catholic weekly Glas Koncila in 2017.

Dalic has enjoyed an impressive spell with the Croatia whom he led to the 2018 World Cup final — a historic achievement for the nation of 4.2 million people — where they lost to France.

He also guided the squad to the last 16 of Euro 2020 and World Cup finals that starts in November.

In Qatar, Croatia will face, Belgium, Canada and Morocco in Group F.

Last month, the Balkans country booked its place in the last four of the Nations League.

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