Igor Stimac out as Croatia boss

Michael Steele

This is what you get when you lose to Scotland, I suppose: Croatia have parted ways with manager Igor Stimac, just weeks ahead of a must-win playoff. Stimac probably shouldn't have been expected to win Group A outright with newly emerged power Belgium also in the group, but Croatia's sorry end to the qualifying campaign, which culminated in Tuesday's 2-0 defeat at Hampden Park.

There was some confusion over whether or not Stimac resigned or whether he was sacked. Immediately after the match, he claimed that he was stepping down, but that's not what Croatian Football Federation president Davor Suker's saying:

We received nothing from him in written or verbal form on the flight back or afterwards, hence he was sacked.

It was a difficult decision because Stimac is a personal friend and a former Croatia team-mate. But a string of poor results and performances made it inevitable.

Stimac will be replaced by under-21 coach Niko Kovac as Croatia prepare for a home and away playoff against one of France, Sweden, Romania and Iceland.

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