Croatia’s Coach Dismisses Striker, Nikola Kalinic
The Croatia side which defeated the Nigeria national team in the their first match at the 2018 World Cup, has sent their striker, Nikola Kalinic, home for refusing to come in as a substitute during the match against Nigeria, Daily Mail reports.
The Croatia forward kicked off the match as a substitute on the bench for the fourth successive international match, but refused to enter when asked by the head coach, Zlatko Dalic to enter in the closing part of the game.
A close source to the Croatia team revealed that the striker declined his manager’s orders, citing a problem with his back and that forced the coach to turn to Marko Pjaca, who is nominally a wide player, to come on in place of forward Mario Mandzukic.
Speaking in the wake of Saturday’s win, Dalic told reporters that the team had finished the game without injuries but ‘with a problem’.
It is understood Dalic was unconvinced by the 30-year-old’s claim and has now subsequently opted to dismiss him.
There was no sign of Kalinic as Croatia trained at their Saint Petersburg base on Sunday ahead of their second Group game against Argentina.
“I need players who are fit and ready to play and Kalinic isn’t,” Dalic explained in his pre-match press conference.
It seems the decision was later taken to axe the AC Milan forward with Kalinic believed to be taking the first flight back home from Russia this week.
Kalinic’s exit has since exposed Croatia’s lack of attacking options, with Mandzukic the only out-and-out striker available in their squad.