Croatia national coach Ante Cacic had been sacked as his replacement Zlatko Dalic will take over leading the nation before their deciding World Cup Group I qualifier in Ukraine.
“Dalic is the new coach and will be in charge for the last game away to Ukraine,” the Croatian Football Association (HNS) president Davor Suker confirmed the news in a conference on Saturday. “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.
Dalic, 50, had been a former midfielder who spent the bulk of his career at Croatian side Varteks Varazdin, coaching Emirati team Al Ain in the past three years and leading them to the Asian Champions League final in 2016. – Cara Daftar Sbobet
On the other hand, 64-year old Dalic 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. Currently second in the group with 17 points from nine games, they are two points behind leaders Iceland and ahead of third-placed Ukraine on goal difference.
However, a win over Ukraine on Monday would guarantee a runners-up finish and a playoff 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.
Pressure had began mounting on Cacic halfway through the campaign as Croatia suffered 1-0 defeats in Iceland and Turkey before the draw with Finland allowed Iceland to leap above them. Asked whether Dalic was a long-term choice, Suker said: “Coaches live by their results and we will see what happens. I am confident we can get a result in Ukraine.”
The nine group winners in the UEFA World Cup qualifiers would qualify automatically for next year’s 32-team tournament in Russia, while the eight best runners-up will enter two-leg play-offs for the remaining four berths.