"Any coach would be happy to have such a player in their team," Kovac is quoted as saying by ESPN. "He's not only a goal-getter or goal scorer, his attitude picks his team up.
"This shows how important he is for this team and what kind of service the team can expect from him. Unfortunately, he could not play in the first match. What is for sure is that with a player such as Mandzukic we looked different."
Croatia face Mexico in their final game of the group stage, knowing that anything less than three points will spell the end of their tournament.