Saturday, 26 March 2022

2023 Euro Qualifiers: Austria Gives Croatia Under-21s First Draw

March 26, 2022 - The young Croatia side resumed the 2023 Euro qualifiers with a draw against Austria, breaking their six-match winning streak. 

The Croatian Under-21 national team played 0:0 against Austria in the qualifying match for the European Championship in Varaždin. Croatia was the favorite but failed to win.

It was Croatia's first draw in these qualifiers. So far, they have had six victories in six games. Igor Bišćan's team remained in first place in the group with 19 points, while Austria is in third with 13 points and practically lost their chances for first place. Norway is second with 15 points and a game less than Croatia.

Croatia coach Igor Bišćan decided to play with three stoppers from the first minute. Mario Vušković, Josip Šutalo, and Josip Stanišić played in the back, Franjić and Boško Šutalo as the wing defenders, Palaversa and Sučić in the middle, while Kačavenda, Marin and Šimić played up top.

Both teams looked like their primary goal was not to concede a goal in the first half. There was only one shot on target in the first 45 minutes. In the 13th minute, Stanišić shot from the right side, and Josip Šutalo with his head, but they were too weak to endanger the Austria goalkeeper Hedl.

Austria suffered several serious fouls in the middle of the first half. Fortunately, no one was hurt. In the second half, both teams had more chances.

Kacavenda received his second yellow card in the 82nd minute and was sent off. He committed a foul during Croatia's attack. He complained to the referee, who showed him his second yellow card.

It was a challenging game with few chances, said coach Bišćan.

"Tough. Quite organized on both sides, the teams came up with a clear plan. I think Austria has shown that it is a serious team. The match was competitive, there was not much beauty in it until the middle of the second half and then when we seemed to be close to the goal, that we imposed ourselves enough to create another chance, that a goal was close, then a red card happened, and in the end, we had to keep that result. It is as what is, but with that point, we put ourselves in a good position and not so much worse than we were before this game. In the next game, they will be motivated to beat Norway, and we have Finland at home, and we believe that we can win that game, and then after eight games, we would be in a good situation. We are not the most satisfied because we did not win and continue that series, but we should congratulate the guys; I am satisfied because we played a serious game."

Croatia will play its next qualifier on Tuesday, March 29, against Finland.

Source: HRT

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Tuesday, 24 August 2021

Three Croatian Diaspora Footballers to Wear U21 Croatia Shirt

August 24, 2021 - Three Croatian diaspora footballers will join Igor Bišćan's U21 Croatia squad for the new qualification cycle. 

U21 Croatia coach Igor Bišćan has selected players for the new qualification cycle, which includes three footballers born and raised abroad - Luka Sučić, Josip Stanišić, and Marco Pašalić, announced HNS.

Red Bull Salzburg's offensive midfielder, Luka Sučić, already has 17 appearances for the young Croatia national team and was among the candidates for the U21 national team before the European Championship final, which he missed due to injury. Sučić played for the U15 Croatia national team for the first time in a friendly match against Austria, where he was born and raised.

"It is a special feeling to wear a jersey with red and white checks, and I am looking forward to continuing to represent Croatia," said Sučić, who is currently on the call-up list for the A national team coach with coach Zlatko Dalić.

Defender Josip Stanišić was born on April 2, 2000, in Munich, where he played for the first team of the Bavarian giants Bayern this season. He played for the German U19 national team in two friendly matches but chose to play for his parents' country:

"I am pleased to be invited to the U21 Croatia national team. I am honored to be able to wear the Croatia jersey," Stanišić said.

Borussia Dortmund striker Marco Pašalić also attracted the attention of the Croatian public this summer. Pašalić was born on September 14, 2000, in Karlsruhe, and so far, he has played in two friendly matches for the U17 Croatia national team.

"I can't describe how proud I am to play for the Croatia national team because I was raised from a young age that Croatia is my homeland. I am looking forward to the first gathering with the young national team, and it is up to all of us to prove ourselves with good games and dedicated work, first for coach Bišćan, and then potentially for coach Dalić," said Pašalić.

The talented trio from the diaspora confirms the quality work of the Croatian Football Federation, said the president of the HNS, Marijan Kustić:

"We are aware that there is great potential in the diaspora, and young men like Sučić, Stanišić, and Pašalić show with their decisions to play for Croatia how strong the commitment of our families abroad is to the Croatia national team. Furthermore, by bringing Stipe Pletikosa as the technical director of the A and U21 national teams, we wanted to strengthen this segment of operations further because we are a small country, and we must successfully find every talent in Croatia or abroad."

The newly appointed technical director of the A and U21 national team, Stipe Pletikosa, has already held talks with Sučić and Stanišić, and this week he will also meet with Pašalić:

"I am extremely pleased that Sučić, Stanišić, and Pašalić have chosen to represent Croatia. We have a responsibility to develop our scout network further and nurture quality communication with guys who are potential for Croatia national teams, and organize as many activities as we can see them up close, such as the Memorial of Croatian Veterans in Vukovar. "

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Monday, 31 May 2021

Under-21 European Championship Quarter-final: Croatia Falls to Spain in Extra Time

May 31, 2021 - Spain was better than Croatia after extra time in the Under-21 European Championship quarter-final in Maribor on Monday. The match ended 2:1. 

The Under-21 European Championship continued on Monday with quarterfinal matches in which the young Croatian national team fought against Spain for a spot in the semifinals. 

Igor Bišćan's side met Spain at Ljudski vrt stadium in Maribor.  

"The guys are aware that we have a great chance, they are motivated to do something and we are all around them to give them that chance and be supportive. They have quality," Bišćan announced before the match. 

Access was allowed to the stadiums in accordance with the relevant local legislation, which warranted the arrival of spectators. The stadium saw mostly Croatia fans! 

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Slobodan Kadic

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Slobodan Kadic

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Slobodan Kadic

Lineups:

Spain: Fernandez - Mingueza, Guillamon, Cuenca, Pedrosa - Beltran, Zubimendi, Garcia - Diaz, Nino, Gil

Croatia: Šemper - Šutalo, Vušković, Gvardiol, Bradarić - Babec, Franjić, Moro - Majer, Musa, Ivanušec

Croatia was solid in the first half and threatened the Spain goal on a few occasions. Despite Spain's high pressure, Ivanušec had a chance from 20 meters in the 7th minute, and in the 23rd, Bradarić's shot was blocked by the Spain defense. Spain retaliated with a Diaz shot from 20 meters, but Croatia's defense made it difficult for them to do much more. 

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Slobodan Kadic

Another chance for Croatia happened in the 36th minute. Ivanušec pulled a quick counter and found Bradarić who precisely played Majer. Majer's shot, unfortunately, hit the Spain player. 

The match ended without goals at the half. 

Spain entered the second half better with many more chances than Croatia. Bišćan introduced Croatia's first sub in the 64th minute when Špikić came on for Musa. Spain's constant pressure paid off in the end - Espanyol striker Javi Puado put them in the lead in the 66th minute for 1:0. 

In the 72nd minute, Bistrović replaced Babec, and Kulenović entered instead of Moro. In the 78th minute, Djurasek and Biuk entered for Franjić and Majer. 

Croatia was lucky to not get scored on again as Spain continued to threaten their half, but they had a few chances, too.

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Slobodan Kadic

The ref added 4 minutes of injury time. Hajduk wunderkind Stipe Biuk was fouled in the penalty box for a penalty in the 91' minute! Ivanušec was perfect for the penalty equalizer! The match went into extra time. 

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Slobodan Kadic

Croatia played very openly in the first half as Bišćan introduced all the offensive players he had at the end of the second half. Spain had a lot of space, but Croatia defended well. The first half ended without goals. 

Unfortunately, the talent of Puado was too much for Croatia once more, as he took on three players to score in the 110'. It was 2:1 for Spain. 

Spain will continue to the semi-final against the winner of Portugal/Italy, to be played at 9pm tonight. 

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Saturday, 8 May 2021

Croatian Footballer Borna Sosa Switching National Teams?

May 8, 2021 - Borna Sosa, one of the most talented young Croatian football players and a member of the U21 national team, received German citizenship in a secret operation of the German Football Federation and is expecting an invitation from the coach Joachim Löw for the European Championship.

As Index.hr finds out, the German federation has been following the 23-year-old Stuttgart left-back for a long time and is preparing the ground for him to join Germany. Sosa was eligible for a German passport because his mother, Vesna, was born in Berlin.

Croatia could thus lose a great talent that has excelled in the Bundesliga ever since he arrived from Dinamo in 2018 in a transfer worth six million euros. Three years later, Sosa is one of the best offensive defenders in Europe. This season, he played 26 games for Stuttgart and recorded as many as nine assists. Ahead of him in that category is only Cuadrado from Juventus, who shared ten assists. According to Transfermarkt, Sosa is worth 12 million euros, and a transfer to Bayern is planned for the summer.

Croatia has not had such a player in the left-back position for 20 years. And it could be lost in the blink of an eye. 

When Sky Sport first published the news about the German Federation operation and Borna Sosa, the Croatian Football Federation had not been informed. The first HNS operative Marijan Kustić read the news in the media, the U21 national team coach Igor Bišćan said he knew absolutely nothing about it, and Zlatko Dalić sounded resigned.

"Everyone has the right to choose whether to play for Croatia or wherever they want," Dalic told Index, announcing that the official position of the Federation would soon be published on the web.

“We are following Borna, he is on a wider list, and we want him to continue with good games for Stuttgart to get even closer to the A national team,” HNS briefly reported.

Meanwhile, the German Bild announced that Sosa is already on the wider list of Germany for the Euro. When the legendary German striker Oliver Bierhoff, today the German national football team director, spoke up, it became clear that he had been negotiating with the young Croatia national team player for a long time.

"We know who he is, and we have been following him for some time. We believe he has the qualities and potential to play for our national football team. We are always looking for solutions in advance. That means we are thinking about him for the European Championship," Bierhoff said. 

Sosa himself confirmed that he is in negotiations with the German Football Federation (DFB) about possibly playing for Germany.

"Yes, I spoke with the director of the national team Oliver Bierhoff. We talked about everything, not only about the European Championship but also about my future if I play for Germany," said Sosa.

Zlatko Dalic included Sosa on the wider list for the first time before the World Cup in Russia. Still, only this season was the young player a serious candidate for the A national team. In Stuttgart, he missed most of the first season due to injuries when the club was relegated to the second division. During the two seasons, Sosa played only 24 games. He had problems with his pubic bone, back, adductor, ligament rupture in the knee joint, concussion, and edema in the knee. He missed the final of the championship in which Stuttgart expressly returned to the first league, and such was the progress of the defender whom the Stuttgart sports director called the new David Beckham. At the end of 2020, he signed a new contract until 2026.

"In the almost two and a half years since I came to Stuttgart, the club and the city have grown close to my heart. Positive things are happening in sports as well, so I hope we can continue to develop together in the future," Sosa said when signing the contract.

He was a standard member and occasional captain of the young national team, for which he played 19 games and won a place at the Euros. Due to a red card he earned in the qualifying match against Scotland, he had to miss the first two matches of the U21 Euro, and coach Igor Bišćan was counting on him for a key match against England.

Index adds that coach Zlatko Dalic told Sosa that he would debut for the A national team against Malta at the beginning of the qualifying cycle for the World Cup in Qatar. The dates coincided with the U21 national team at the Euro, and Bišćan asked Dalic to give him Sosa, which he needed in the crucial match against England. That was the turning point.

Dalic could not reject Bišćan.

Sosa was not at the camp before the match against England on March 31, in which the young national team fought for a historical placement in the quarterfinals. He sent a medical report and a certificate of injury to Bišćan. Croatia went further with Bradarić's goal, and the scenes of celebrations between Bišćan and the players toured Europe. Sosa was not a topic, although only four days later, he played for Stuttgart against Werder, played 90 minutes, and recorded an assist. He also played in the next round for 90 minutes against Borussia Dortmund. He then paused for the next three games in the championship due to injury.

Bišćan did not suspect that there was a problem, but everything became clear to Dalic. Sosa was never promised a spot at the Euros, but Dalic let him know that he is seriously counting on him and that he will have a place on the wider list where he can show his worth.

Dalic already has a complex list for the Euro, but will the possibility of losing Borna to Germany change that now? Only time will tell. 

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Tuesday, 9 March 2021

U-21 Croatia Player List Released for 2021 Euros in Hungary and Slovenia!

March 9, 2021 - The U-21 Croatia player list has been released by coach Igor Bišćan ahead of the European Championship in Hungary and Slovenia later this month. 

The young Croatia national football team will play at the European Championship after a turbulent qualifying campaign and will soon compete in the group stage against Portugal (March 25), Switzerland (March 28), and England (March 31). A spot in the quarterfinals will be won by the two best national teams from each group.

The list of players for the European Championship includes 23 names, including three goalkeepers.

Goalkeepers: Adrian Šemper (Chievo), Dominik Kotarski (Ajax), Ivan Nevistić (Rijeka)

Defenders: Borna Sosa (Stuttgart), Domagoj Bradarić (Lille), Marin Šverko (Saarbrücken), Joško Gvardiol (Dinamo), Martin Erlić (Spezia), Krešimir Krizmanić (Gorica), Mario Vušković (Hajduk)

Midfielders: Nikola Moro (Dinamo Moskva), Lovro Majer (Dinamo), Kristijan Bistrović (Kasimpasa), Darko Nejašmić (Hajduk), Mihael Žaper (Osijek), Bartol Franjić (Dinamo), Luka Sučić (RB Salzburg)

Attackers: Luka Ivanušec (Dinamo), Sandro Kulenović (Rijeka), Petar Musa (Union Berlin), Dario Špikić (Gorica), Dario Vizinger (Wolfsberger), Marko Divković (Dunajska Streda)

Croatia will face three demanding exams at this year's European Championship. Coach Igor Bišćan believes that his players have something to say in the competition against Portugal, Switzerland, and England.

"England is a category unto themselves, extremely strong and one of the favorites of the whole competition. They all play at a high level, not only relying on physical strength but also adding tactical awareness and technique, and imagination. Their value is close to the world's largest A-selections. Portugal is a copy of their senior team, they cultivate the same combinatorial style, and they are challenging and experienced enough in competitive football. They will take advantage of any carelessness and punish it. They have several individuals from the world’s biggest clubs; they are where our players would one day want to be. They may not have adequate minutes, but their quality is indisputable. England and Portugal should go further. Switzerland is tough, solid, organized, and a couple of players from our region give them a dose of unpredictability. However, we are also good; it will be a demanding group, a real test to see where we are concerning the best and those close to us," he said.

In the first two group games, Croatia will not count on the suspended Borna Sosa, but in cooperation with Zlatko Dalić, they have yielded a solution.

"Sosa is too important, good and high quality not to count on him, and it is to be assumed that the last game in the group will be important. If the last game does not decide on something, he will join the A-selection, which speaks volumes about his form. I am glad that Dalić gave us Bradarić, we are cooperating very well, and he showed a correct attitude. We have a great situation with high-level players," Bišćan explained.

Some players also bring experience from the last European Championship, but this will be somewhat different due to the format change.

"That experience can help, but unfortunately, we don't have Boško Šutal due to a foot injury, and it really hit us, as we are the thinnest on the right defender. A tournament like this is a nice experience for every young footballer's career and an opportunity to present his talent on a phenomenal stage. This competition is specific; there is no time to play. We gather on Monday and Tuesday, and the match is already on Thursday - it should be more suitable for individually stronger teams. At the same time, it does not allow others to cancel that advantage. He who is ready from the first second to switch from the club rhythm without stumbling will do well. I'm sorry that there are no fans, Koper is close, but it's best to get out of the group, so maybe something will change for the quarterfinals," concluded Bišćan.

Source: HNS

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Sunday, 30 August 2020

Coronavirus Enters HNS: Executive Director Marijan Kustic Comments on Situation

August 30, 2020 - HNS Executive Director Marijan Kustic explained the current situation in HNS, after they announced that members of the U-21 national team staff are coronavirus-positive.

Gol.hr reports that COVID-19 has entered the Croatian Football Federation. HNS issued a statement on Saturday:

"Two members of the youth national team staff, including coach Igor Biscan, are positive for the SARS-CoV-2 virus (without symptoms), so the current coach will not lead the U-21 national team at the upcoming September gathering.

Due to close contact with the infected, other members of Biscan's staff, in addition to Renato Pilipovic, have to go into self-isolation for 14 days,” reads the HNS statement, among other things.

Nova TV reporter Milan Stjelja discussed the topic with HNS executive director Marijan Kustic.

"For the sake of prevention, we tested the staff of the senior and youth national teams. Unfortunately, we have now heard that the coach of the U-21 national team, Igor Biscan, is positive for the coronavirus, as well as another member of the staff. We heard from each other on several occasions today, Igor has no symptoms, but the result is positive, so he and his staff have to go to self-isolation for 14 days due to close contact,” Kustic said in the introduction.

The young national team will play two important matches in the Euro U-21 qualifiers at the beginning of September. Who will replace Biscan on the bench?

"We only had consultations today, in which Biscan also participated by phone. We agreed that the U-17 national team coach Tomislav Rukavina and the HNS chief instructor Petar Krpan would take over.“

Luckily, there are no positive results in the headquarters of the senior national team.

"It is gratifying, the entire staff headed by coach Dalic is negative. For the sake of prevention, we tested everything so as not to get into a situation where the virus, God forbid, spreads at the gathering, to bring playing the matches into question.”

What about the players?

"They must come to the gathering with negative results that must not be older than 72 hours."

Certainly of interest to the Croatian public is the HNS decision to play an exhibition match in Donji Miholjac between the veterans of Jedinstvo and veterans of the Croatia national team, which also featured the president of the Federation Davor Suker, with a limited audience.

When we know that HNS decided to play the end of the season without spectators, and there are currently no spectators in the new season,  was the wrong step taken?

"I can only say that the club Jedinstvo from Donji Miholjac, on the occasion of their anniversary, asked veterans of the Croatia national team to come and enhance their jubilee. Of course, before that, they had a meeting with the local Civil Protection Headquarters, with the obligation to respect all epidemiological measures. I am convinced that this was the case,"  concluded Kustic.

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Thursday, 27 February 2020

Croatian Argentine Footballer Joining Croatia U-21 National Team? Coach Igor Biscan Weighs In

February 27, 2020 - In an interview with Gol.hr, Croatia U-21 coach Igor Biscan reveals the likelihood of a new superstar from Argentina joining the young Croatia national team. 

It’s no surprise that football coaches in Croatia closely follow the development of young Croatian footballers - and there are plenty of Croats abroad, especially in Germany. Now and then, someone memorable comes into the mix.

"I follow players a lot, wherever anyone pops up. Either I find myself following these platforms, someone notifies me or people come forward. The Federation also collects information well. There are many of us abroad, specifically, in this age group. We have now found a player in Argentina, who we are following,” Biscan said.

"The boy's name is Bajamic. It's quite interesting; we'll keep an eye on him. He plays in a club from the Second Argentine League. He plays as the striker or wing striker. He is very offensive-oriented. We are following him and maybe calling him at one point,” Biscan said, adding:

“There has always been and always will be talent. It's in our genes. We just need to expand the network to gather information. We have to do everything we can to prevent a talented young man from escaping us."

The talented young player is Mateo Bajamic, or 'Bajamich' in Argentina. He was born on 3 August 1999 in Morrison, a small town between Cordoba and Rosario. He is a member of the Cordoba Institute, a club that has introduced many great footballers. It all began with the famous Mario Kempes and Osvaldo Ardiles, world champions with Argentina in 1978. Of the younger generation, the most famous is Paulo Dybala, currently playing at Juventus.

Bajamic is predicted to have a great career. He is 20 years old and has scored nine goals for his club so far in 22 games. He has scored eight goals in 17 games this season, drawing attention from Argentina's biggest clubs and many in Europe. He is the hit of the season, and can’t escape the praise of his teammates.

"He really is a great talent. If he goes on like this, I do not doubt that he will be playing for a big European club in two to three years,” predicts his teammate German Estigarribia.

"Everyone is aware of his potential. Even those who have only seen him play once couldn't help but notice his talent,” writes Argentinian MundoD.

Coach Cesar Zabala also spoke about the attacker of Croatian roots, whose surname is mostly found in the vicinity of Omis, like the Split rising singer Maja Bajamic.

“Those of us who have followed him from a young age know very well what kind of talent he is. He is now perhaps our most important player. He is strongest at the point of a striking attacker. He is a great striker and there is still room for progress. We are working to make him even better,” said Zabala. 

Argentine media reported that he is targeted by many European clubs and that he is in the process of obtaining Croatian citizenship. Instituto has reportedly been visited in recent weeks by numerous broadcasters from European clubs, who are in constant search for South American talents.

"Mateo is currently not for sale. He has a contract until the summer of 2022,” the president of the Institute, Roberto Castoldi, firmly asserted, and to the speculation that Bajamic intends to obtain Croatian citizenship, he replied:

"Our idea is to keep all our players with an Argentine passport so that there will be no surprises before the possible sale."

Argentine media have openly speculated that Instituto will find it challenging to keep Bajamic, and he will likely leave the club in the summer.

Instituto, like most smaller Argentine clubs, has major financial problems, so it is clear that resolute rejection of potential customers is just a tactical move to try to get as much compensation as possible. Bajamic is estimated at €1.8 million on Transfermarkt, and Instituto is reportedly seeking significantly more.

The Argentines are obviously aware that the Croatian Football Federation is following Bajamic closely and that he may soon play for the U-21 Croatia national team. Bajamic has not played in Argentina's young selection so far. What we do know now is that Mateo is certainly on Biscan's radar. 

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Monday, 23 September 2019

Igor Biscan Resigns as Rijeka Coach, Cites Lack of Support and Poor Conditions

September 23, 2019 - After Dino Skender was sacked as the Osijek coach on Saturday, Rijeka coach Igor Biscan handed in his resignation. 

Index.hr reports that Biscan resigned at a press conference after defeating Istria in Pula (3:0). Rijeka registered their first victory after 50 days, but that did not affect the decision made by Bišcan before the game. Damir Miskovic already had a solution on Sunday morning.

Biscan cited that he was dissatisfied with the club atmosphere and limited staff. Rijeka officially confirmed the news as soon as the match in Pula ended.

After the victory, Biscan shunned the cameras and asked his assistant Anto Tomic to take the television interviews and comment on the match live from the stadium. Tomic knew that Biscan was going to hold his final press conference as the coach of Rijeka.

In a brief address to the press, Biscan said he was leaving disappointed with the working conditions at the club and the situation around the club.

"I will talk about the match very briefly. The way my players played today is the best indicator of how much truth there is in the headlines that we turned our backs on each other. As you know, this is my last match on the Rijeka bench. I am tired of working in conditions that are not ideal; they are nowhere near that. Nonetheless, we were able to produce great results in conditions that were not great. Times have changed,” Igor Biscan said in his introduction, and openly said that he had a hard time dealing with the boycott of Rijeka fans from day one and cared very much about the club.

This was clearly evident in his work and dedication in Rijeka, where, despite the turbulence, he revitalized an average team and proved to be an excellent coach. Even so, Biscan was increasingly nervous and repeatedly said at press conferences that poor results are the result of lack of quality in the team, but that players have no reason to complain.

Bišćan thanked his players and associates.

"From the beginning, I did not have the support of the general public here. As I said before, it's a different time. Rijeka used to be able to buy a left back for one game, and now this is no longer possible. I decided I had to stop. I thank everyone for their support, Damir Mišković for his trust, and the biggest thanks go to my staff and players. I wish Rijeka good luck and hope they find someone who will care about the club as much as I did,” Igor Biscan concluded and left the press conference.

The reporters did not have the opportunity to ask Biscan additional questions.

The boss of Rijeka has already hired a new coach, and according to unofficial information, the club is being taken over by Simon Rozman, a 36-year-old Slovenian with whom the club has been in contact since Matjaz Kek's departure.

Miskovic saw a long-term solution in Biscan, but their cooperation didn't last a year. On Monday morning, Index.hr learned that the new coach is already on the way to Rijeka. Rozman is otherwise a great favorite of Matjaz Kek, who wanted him as part of his staff in Rijeka.

Rozman has led Celje and Domzale in his coaching career. He left Domzale 18 days ago.

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Tuesday, 9 October 2018

Life After Kek: Rijeka Confirms New Coach, Armada Fan Group Protests

Matjaž Kek parted ways with Rijeka after losing to Gorica over the weekend. 

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