Croa­tia bring in Dalic to re­place sacked boss

Sunday Independent (Ireland) - Sport - - SOCCER -

CROA­TIA sacked coach Ante Cacic and named Zlatko Dalic as his re­place­ment yes­ter­day, ahead of their crunch World Cup Group I qual­i­fier in Ukraine, the Balkan na­tion’s Football As­so­ci­a­tion (HNS) pres­i­dent, Da­vor Suker, said.

“Dalic is the new coach and will be in charge for the last game away to Ukraine,” Suker told a news con­fer­ence in the Croa­t­ian cap­i­tal.

“The HNS ex­ec­u­tive board made a unan­i­mous de­ci­sion af­ter a long night to ter­mi­nate co­op­er­a­tion with Cacic.

“We took only four points in the last four games and had no choice, but to take this course of ac­tion.”

The 50-year-old Dalic, a for­mer mid­fielder who spent the bulk of his ca­reer at Croa­t­ian side Varteks Varazdin, coached Emi­rati team Al Ain in the past three years and took them to the Asian Cham­pi­ons League fi­nal in 2016.

Cacic, un­pop­u­lar with many of the Croa­tia play­ers and most fans, was dis­missed af­ter Fri­day’s 1-1 home draw with Fin­land left their hopes of reach­ing next year’s tour­na­ment in Rus­sia hang­ing in the bal­ance.

The Croa­t­ians are sec­ond in the group with 17 points from nine games, two be­hind lead­ers Ice­land and ahead of third-placed Ukraine on goal dif­fer­ence.

A win over the Ukraini­ans to­mor­row would guar­an­tee a run­ners-up fin­ish and a play-off berth, with the top spot avail­able only in the un­likely event that Ice­land slip up at home against bot­tom team Kosovo in their fi­nal match.

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