Canada coach Herdman disputes Croatian counterpart’s handshake take

Canada head coach John Herdman watches his team during practice at the World Cup in Doha, Qatar. (Nathan Denette/CP)

Canada coach John Herdman is disputing his Croatian counterpart’s account of why there was no handshake after their World Cup game.

Herdman had antagonized the Croatian camp with a heated post-game message to his players after Canada’s opening 1-0 loss to Belgium at the soccer showcase. Asked in a pitch-side interview what he had said in a post-game huddle to his players, Herdman replied: “I told them they belong here and we’re going to go and eff— Croatia. That’s as simple as it gets.”

That prompted a stern lecture from Croatia coach Zlatko Dalic on the need for respect. And after Croatia beat the Canadians 4-1 Sunday, Dalic was asked if he had a chance to shake hands with Herdman following the final whistle.

“I did not see the other head coach after the match,” he said through an interpreter. “When I lose … I always congratulate the winner. He was not there and that’s his way of doing things. He’s obviously mad. He is a good coach. He is a high-quality professional. But it will take some time for him to learn some things.”

Herdman, whose post-game news conference preceded Dalic’s on Sunday, disputed that account Wednesday when asked about it.

“Look, we shook hands before the game. So that happened,” he said. “At the end of the game, the usual process — no different than (with Belgium coach) Roberto Martinez. You shake hands with the coach, then you go shake hands with the referee.

“When I turned round, (Dalic) was already off down the touchline, which is his right to do. He’s celebrating. He’s just beaten Canada. It was a big celebration for him. He was off and I couldn’t get to shake his hand. I went into the field, shook the ref’s hand, shook players’ hands. And didn’t get to see him.

“That moment’s gone. We’re into process now — team huddle, see your fans, flash interviews, calm yourself down so you don’t say anything and move on.”

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