Croatia will face a tougher England this time says Cole
BARCELONA (Reuters) - England have learnt from their 2006 defeat by Croatia in Zagreb and will not make the same naive mistakes when they meet again in Wednesday's World Cup qualifier, according to midfielder Joe Cole.
England, who lost 2-0 in Zagreb in a Euro 2008 qualifier nearly two years ago, travel to Croatia after Cole scored both goals in Saturday's opening 2-0 win over Andorra in Group Six.
"I think the main thing on Wednesday is that we stay solid," Cole told a news conference. "I think we are far tougher mentally now than we were then.
"Last time we went out there, we were a little bit naive and underestimated them. In the past, England teams have thrown men forward and got caught on the counter-attack a lot.
"But we have to be resolute, strong and hard to break down. We have to stay solid, compact, and pass the ball well.
"I know they haven't lost at home for a very long time.
"They have so much quality in their side; players like (Mladen) Petric, (Luka) Modric who can be very dangerous. We need to be strong and mentally tough out there."
Although the match is only the second 2010 qualifier for both teams, with Croatia having beaten Kazakhstan 3-0 on Saturday, Cole believes a victory would put England in control of a group which also includes Ukraine and Belarus.
"We've got our first points in the group, it's a fantastic start, now we have to move on and get the right result on Wednesday night," he said.
"If we win, it would put us in the driving seat, and I don't want to sound negative, but even a draw would put us in the driving seat too.
"It is going to be difficult, their fans will be right behind them but we are all experienced players and been there and done it we know what to expect."
England lost twice to Croatia in the Euro 2008 qualifiers, their 3-2 defeat at Wembley last November meaning they failed to make it to the finals in Switzerland and Austria.
Cole said the disappointment of that loss would also inspire them on Wednesday.
"In your football career you have to turn all the negatives into positives. You have to get over the disappointments.
"I know how we felt in that dressing room at Wembley that night -- and we have to use that feeling to push us on and inspire us."
(Editing by Trevor Huggins)
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