LUSAIL, Qatar — Luka Modric could play on until the next European Championships, said Croatia coach Zlatko Dalic following their World Cup exit to Argentina.

Croatia were beaten 3-0 at Lusail Stadium on Tuesday, but Dalic suggested afterwards that Saturday’s third-place playoff against either France or Morocco will not be Modric’s final international appearance and that the 37-year-old could continue until Euro 2024 in Germany.

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“Perhaps this is the end of the generation of the World Cups, a couple have reached an age and have to see what happens in 2026,” Dalic said. “We have had a great team and this generation will finish off their career at Euro 2024. We have the Nations League and an excellent generation who reached two semifinals.”

Ahead of the Euros, Croatia have the Nations League finals to contest in June 2023 and despite their World Cup disappointment, Dalic said he plans to stay on as coach.

“I will continue,” he said. “My contract is until the 2024 European Championships and in six months we have the Nations League finals. My plan is to take Croatia to Euro 2024.”

Before then, Dalic will need to prepare for one final game in Qatar against Wednesday’s other losing semifinalist. The 56-year-old admitted it will not be easy after missing out on a place in a second successive World Cup final and particularly because his players believed they “could have done more” against Argentina.

“We need to get back to our feet and try to win the third place game,” he said. “We had good control for 30 minutes and the first goal was a little suspicious to be honest. It was a corner according to my players. Both goals were a little bit too cheap and too easy. After the second goal, it was already done at that point.

“It’s a very difficult situation to come back from. I told them we need to keep our heads up. We can be proud of what they achieved and now we have to fight for third place. It was not easy today and the players are sad. It’s really hard for them, they feel they could have done more.”

Dalic ultimately admitted there was little they could do against an Argentina team with Lionel Messi, who scored and assisted a goal in the win, playing up to his very best in the heart of Lionel Scaloni’s side.

“He is the best player in the world, he was dangerous and he has quality,” Dalic said. “He has technique and put in a high level performance, it was the true Messi we expected to see.

“Argentina have an excellent team and Messi being a player of such quality and with thousands of supporters behind him, they play as they best see fit.

“Today they had four midfielders in the middle and we tried to play aggressively. But Messi can make one move and make a difference, which he did for the third goal.”

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Croatia’s Zlatko Dalic wants Luka Modric on 2024 Euro squad