Croatian President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic said Friday she could not wait for the World Cup final against France, as officials worked overtime to meet the huge demands from fans needing passports.
Zlatko Dalic’s side reached Sunday’s final after beating England 2-1 in extra-time in Moscow on Wednesday, sparking wild scenes of excitement both in the Luzhniki Stadium and in Croatia.
“I feel extremely excited, I don’t know how I will wait until Sunday,” said Grabar-Kitarovic, who is going to attend the game.
“Regardless of Sunday’s result, which I believe will be a victory, we are winners.”
She said the current set of players had surpassed the achievements of the team that finished third at the 1998 World Cup in France.
Police in Zagreb said they would be working extra hours to process passports from fans wanting to attend the match.
The Croatian Football Federation has asked FIFA for extra tickets but at the moment they are only available on the black market.
Grabar-Kitarovic said she would probably give a Croatia jersey to her French counterpart Emmanuel Macron after sending one to Russian President Vladimir Putin and giving one to British Prime Minister Theresa May earlier in the tournament.
“I go for the final not only as a politician or president… but as a passionate fan of Croatian football… as someone who played football in childhood,” she said.
“I hope for fair play and a good atmosphere,” she added, but did not want to predict the result. “I’m not good at that. The result is not important, only that it is a victory.”
Regardless of the outcome, the team will be welcomed on Monday at 2:30 pm (1230 GMT) in Zagreb’s main Jelacic Square.
Tens of thousands of people are expected to greet the team on their way from the airport to the city centre.