*** ----> I am a winner: Bahrain national team coach Talajic | THE DAILY TRIBUNE | KINGDOM OF BAHRAIN

I am a winner: Bahrain national team coach Talajic

TDT | Manama                                                      

The Daily Tribune – www.newsofbahrain.com

Dragan Talajic means business. The Croatian tactician, signed just last month to take over Bahrain’s senior men’s national football team, is looking to instill “a winning mentality” in the Kingdom’s squad, and will settle for nothing but the best from his players.

In an exclusive interview with The Daily Tribune, Talajic says that Bahrain’s footballers have limitless potential, and he will be looking to maximise their prowess as they strive to achieve their future goals. “I am a winning coach,” Talajic tells TDT with conviction.

“If you have watched my past, my coaching career, I am a winner. I have this kind of winning mentality in myself. I will try to put this same thing for my players. “We have to change their minds.

We have to start to believe in ourselves because we have a lot more to give for Bahrain football. Inshaallah, we will do it together.” Talajic kicks off his first training gathering with the national team tomorrow as they begin to prepare for the continuation of joint-qualification for the FIFA World Cup 2026 and the AFC Asian Cup 2027.

The World Cup is their ultimate dream, Talajic acknowledges, and he will be aiming to make a winning start with Bahrain when they take on Nepal in a pair of qualifiers later this month. “We know our target, which is to qualify for the World Cup,” he said. “We will get this opportunity and we will fight for it until the last second.

“I am very happy because I’m getting this chance. I hope that, with my experience, I can do something for Bahrain football.” Talajic is no stranger to the local game and its players. He had managed three Bahraini clubs in the past, and recalls seeing some of the Kingdom’s biggest names today when they were still youngsters.

The 58-year-old speaks fondly of his relationship with many of the players, whom he believes can rise to levels they have yet to reach. “My first experience in Bahrain was in 2005; some of the players now were cheering for our national team as babies, and we have grown up together,” Talajic says. “I know most of them closely. I knew of them when they started to play football and I have watched them grow now.


“I think they still have not reached their limit. We have some more steps.

This will be a big opportunity and a big chance for me and for them to get something for Bahrain football.” Talajic has coached three clubs in the Kingdom, including Riffa, East Riffa and most recently Al Khaldiya from late 2020 to mid-2022.

During this period, he helped Khaldiya claim their first-ever HM the King’s Cup title in 2022. Talajic has a clear plan as head coach of the national team.

“We will use the best tactics with what the players can play,” he explains. “I will do everything to make the players happy and for them to feel comfortable to play in the best system they can.

This is my job.” He adds: “For my philosophy of football, who is the best coach? He is the one who can take, at each moment, the best what the players have.

Nothing more. That is what I will try to do. “My job is to try to bring the team to the best position that we can be, and I say openly, if we do not achieve this, I will not be happy.”

Talajic has taken the reins of the national team from Juan Antonio Pizzi of Argentina, whose two-year contract was terminated last month by the Bahrain Football Association with mutual consent after just over half-a-year in the job.

Talajic expressed his appreciation to Pizzi for his work with the team, as well as to former head coach Helio Sousa from Portugal, who was Pizzi’s predecessor. “I can only say thank you to them,” Talajic says. “I am sure both of them gave the best they can.

Now, I will try to improve something—in a better way. And inshallah, we can see.” Bahrain are in Group H of the joint-qualifiers. They are set to face their Nepalese counterparts in two matches—the first on March 21 followed by another on March 26. Both games may be played in the Kingdom.

They had previously beaten Yemen 2-0 in their opening assignment and then lost to the UAE 0-2. Following this month’s games, their final two assignments will be against Yemen at home on June 6, and then away against the UAE on June 11.

At the end of this stage, the winners and runners-up of each of the nine groups advance to the third round of FIFA World Cup 2026 qualification, and also book their direct tickets to the AFC Asian Cup 2027.


Coach Dragan Talajic with the Al Khaldiya team when they won the His Majesty the King’s Cup in 2022