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Kovač announces Croatian squad for Gibraltar and Italy

May 25, 2015


Photo:  HNS



Croatia coach Niko Kovač named the following 30-man squad on Monday for Croatia’s friendly against Gibraltar on June 7th(18:00) in Varaždin and Euro 2016 qualifier against Italy behind closed doors on June 12th(20:45) in Split. The former Bayern Munich star, will be without the injured Luka Modrić and decided to drop Ivan Strinić because the former Hajduk Split defender “doesn’t bleed for the checkers as much as Pranjić and Srna.”


Tin Jedvaj of Bayer Leverkusen returns to the squad after recovering from injury. Mato Jajalo returns to the team after picking up his only cap in a friendly against Argentina last November. 20-year-old, Mario Pašalić, will also be looking for his second cap after making his debut against Cyprus last September. RNK Split midfielder, Marko Rog, should get a look against Gibraltar and will most likely look on from the bench against Italy. Nikola Kalinić of Dnipro returns to the squad just days after getting into it with captain Darijo Srna during a Ukraine league match. It will be interesting to see if the two kiss and make up. Spezia striker, Mario Šitum, received a surprise call up from Niko Kovač and will be searching for his first cap.




Niko Kovač

Photo: Goran Stanzl/PIXSELL




“The end of the season is always demanding for all players, but in front of us is a big game with Italy and I am sure that my players will be extra motivated to find some extra energy to end the season. We have added extra players to our roster because of the match with Gibraltar after which we will shorten the list of players for the match with Italy. I spoke today with Luka and he is simply not yet able to start training let alone the game. Of course it is a great pity that he can not be with us, but we agreed from the beginning that health is important and that there is no need to risk anything. Luka will play in a lot more meaningful games for us in the future and it is only logical to give him support in his recovery and to return completely healthy.”


~Croatian manager, Niko Kovač







Danijel Subašić(Monaco), Lovre Kalinić (Hajduk) , Ivan Vargić (Rijeka)  




Darijo Srna (Šahtar), Šime Vrsaljko (Sassuolo), Ivan Tomečak (Rijeka), Vedran Ćorluka (Lokomotiv), Gordon Schildenfeld (Panathinaikos), Domagoj Vida (Dynamo Kijev), Dejan Lovren (Liverpool), Danijel Pranjić (Panathinaikos), Marin Leovac (Rijeka), Tin Jedvaj (Bayer) 




Luka Modrić (Real Madrid), Ivan Rakitić (Barcelona), Milan Badelj (Fiorentina), Marcelo Brozović (Inter), Mateo Kovačić (Inter), Alen Halilović (Barcelona B), Mato Jajalo (Palermo), Mario Pašalić (Elche), Marko Rog (Split), Ivan Perišić (Wolfsburg),





Ivica Olić (HSV), Mario Mandžukić (Atletico), Andrej Kramarić (Leicester), Ante Rebić (Leipzig), Marko Pjaca (Dinamo), Anas Sharbini (Rijeka), Nikola Kalinić (Dnipro), Mario Šitum (Spezia)


Denis Svirčić
Posted By: Denis Svirčić 34 comments

  1. Nas says:

    Excellent selection by Kovac. Very pleased with the selection of the young players to the roster.

  2. Jašo says:

    My disagreements are No Strinic Barisic LBs. Livakovic should have made it instead Vargic. Santini and Perica should have been called v gibraltar. Sharbini ? Jajalo? Rebic? Halilovic? Situm? Sometimes i wonder NK.

  3. Andrej L says:

    This no Strinic thing is getting really bad. I hope Jedvaj or Vrsaljko making a good showing at least.

  4. Jašo says:

    Guys Pranjic is our LB deal with it dont expext much at euro 2016 until HNS is cleaned up.

  5. Neznalica says:

    GOLMANI: Subasic, Kalinic, Livakovic LIJEVI BEK: Strinic, LeovacSTOPERI: Lovren, Vida, Schifo, Corluka DESNI BEK: Vrsaljko, Jedvaj VEZNI RED: Modric, Rakitic, Kovacic, Brozovic, Badelj, PasalicKRILA: Perisic, Rebic, Pjaca, HalilovicNAPAD: Mandzukic, Kramaric Ovo za sva vremena mora biti glavni popis igraca a po potrebi mogu uletiti Vargic, Tomecak, Leskovic, Mitrovic, Coric, Balic, Vlasic, Kalinic i Cop. Srna, Olic, Pranjic sto dalje od repke.

  6. Slavonac from Canada says:

    I’m a Strinic fan and read today that there is more to this than we know, apparently Strinic isn’t really into playing and has been nonchalant about his status!

    There was an article in Jutarnji today!

  7. Maminjo says:


    I don’t believe anything Niko Kovac says. His comments about Strinic are unprofessional and utter bullshit.

    Kovac has already proven to be a pretty insecure guy who is easily rattled by criticism and is quick to react in juvenile fashion. The way he handled the criticism after the World Cup was weak, and even making a comment like this, directly to the media, about a player he is currently coaching in Strinic, is pretty fucking low.

    When has Strinic ever tried to get out of playing for the repka in the past?

    When called, Strinic has never missed a game. He was one of our best players at Euro 2012. Not once have we heard anything negative come from Strinic, not even since being insulted publicly by Kovac. All the while, his replacement (Pranjic) has already had a falling out with the previous coach and bailed on the team already once in the past. Pranjic also bitched a lot at Bayern, and he recently got in a bit of trouble with Panathinaikos management for making a not-so-great comment about them on Instagram.

    Kovac simply has his favorites, and that’s that. If he is questioned, then he reacts in typical Balkan fashion. Everyone knows he has an obsession with starting Pranjic (even if out of position) and everyone has questioned it. His reaction is to just stubbornly stick with it and if it means throwing Strinic under the bus, then he’ll take it.

    Strinic has every right to walk out on this team, yet he hasn’t already. Hopefully Strinic sticks around, and Pranjic gets injured. That’s my only hope for salvaging our LB position at Euro 2016.

  8. Slavonac from Canada says:


    You probably have more info on this than I do. Today I read an article that said just before the World Cup Strinic walked into the camp and announced he is injured and can’t go, apparently the doctors were shocked by his comment and behaviour.

    They gave a few more examples, I really don’t know what to believe but if you know me, you know I’ve always liked his style of play.

    You really think Kovac is such an insecure midget?

  9. Anonymous says:

    Kovac is the coach and his ass is on the line therefore he can call up any players that he feels will fit well into the style he wants to play. Not sure why some of you are surprised at this.

    Pranjic hasnt been a liability in the qualifying games and seems to have a good understanding with Vida.

    Kovac prefers players that have played in Germany because thats the way he wants to mold his team.

    The most talented players in the starting 11 dont always yield the best result, and the chemistry is pretty damn good right now. I havent seen the national team score goals at this pace ever, regardless of the competition we have had in the past. Teams just dont go into Italy and dominate the way we did either.

  10. Ziva Istina Ziva Istina says:

    Only Kovac knows for sure.

    Strinic wouldn’t be the first and last guy to place club over country. It happens. Shit, we have had guys before where questions were raised behind closed doors about their commitment levels. Some of these guys decide to play for the repka because they don’t want to deal with the negativity that would come if they came and said yet wanted to rest or not play.

    As for Kovac…….this is the same guy who asked his players not to share info with the media and is going to some media contacts with whom he has a favorable relationship and is dropping info. That is never a good look. A coach with experience and results can get away wih that.

  11. Slavonac from Canada says:

    Well, I can honestly say I did know Kovac was against his players talking but I didn’t read into it….I’m not really liking the things I hear about him lately but nothing is worse than him being adamant about Pranjic, that just irritates me like hell!

  12. The Great Anonymous Doom says:

    It’s possible for Leovac or Vrsaljko to take the left back position. Leovac handled defensive tasks quite well against Argentina, and Vrsaljko played reasonably well in the role against Australia, Brazil, and Mexico (before being subbed off for Kovacic) at the World Cup. Either one could prove to be more defensively sound than Pranjic.

  13. Mr. Black says:


    What about Croatia’s appeal against the decision to play the game behind closed doors?

    If they should play behind closed doors, will they be allowed to broadcast the game anyway so we can still see the game?

  14. Soul Champ says:

    Can’t make this Balkan BS up?

    Pranjić bails on Bilić, then Kovač takes a crap on Strinic doesn’t genuflect and is frozen out.

    All the while Pranjic never was, is or will be a LB!

    I would give some minutes to Pranjic at LWM. He simply has no interest in playing any D at LB.

    Strinic in his prime at present is by far our best LB and gets the smear campaign. Pizda

    Jebi ga.

    I am looking forward to seeing the young crew in Varaždin.

    Also u17 World Cup in Chile!

    Depth and young legs wins major tournaments.

  15. kovac says:

    bravo Kovac, he continues to impress
    strinic has caused internal riff previously with the team so good to leave him off the squad, it happens, people have to get over it

  16. Neznalica says:

    How is he impressing when Olic Srna Pranjic are in 11 and mandzukic looks terrible because he doesnt have players to cross it in to him and he doesnt have a SS to play off of. But whatever croatia will choke at the euros anyway and then homer fans can say we will ahock 2018 i guess croatia is good every 10 years 1998 2008 maybe 2018?

  17. Maminjo says:

    Well I hope he has another gear when tournament play comes around…because every other team will.

    Being able to step up once the tourney starts, is when you know you have a good coach. I’ll bet Italy will be a completely different team at Euro 2016 despite looking sluggish in the qualifiers.

    For Cro at Euro 2016, it’s quarterfinal or bust. We burned a World Cup because we decided to bring in, yet another, rookie coach. I don’t want to see people patting each other on the back for making the 16-team (out of 24 team) knockout phase.

  18. Neznalica says:

    Gotta understand NK used the alibi in 2014 that qualyfing was the goal it was achieved. Imo qualyfing should be mandatory and 1/8 at euros and 1/16 in WC should be goal and putting best 11 in and best 23 and NK clearly hasnt watch the HNL or other croats around europe Situm over santini? Also best LB in HNL was not Leovac but Borna Barisic of osijek next season Dinamo. Olic isnt a winger wasnt when he was 25 not now at 35. My only problem is Lb Lw and Srna sometimes doesnt show up but atleat his d is good. And i think Livakovic of Zagreb should have got called he should be at 2016. So for 2016 i expect NK to find a LB and Pjaca Rebic Halilovic Coric Tomecak even Sharbini should fight for LW spot if NK plays 4 2 3 1

  19. Sepp says:

    US federal gov’t is going after FIFA. No coincidence that Blatter hasn’t stepped foot in the US in many years and now definitely never will. Great to see that fat pig Chuck Blazer singing like a canary. This is going to be a game changer.

  20. Croatia vs. Antwerp says:

    A buncha FIFA officials were arrested, now that’s what I call bringing down house. It’s about friggin’ time!

  21. Niko says:

    NK will doi the correct thing, good coach who is bringing in the youth. I am sure if he could get rid of Olic, Srna and Pranjic he would but other players have to step up and take the positon away.

  22. Sude Mi says:


    Kovac simply has his favorites, and that’s that.

    EVERY coach has their favorites, so would you if you were in his position….so? No one on here watches all these players as much as Kovac and his staff, so all commentary needs to be viewed through that prism. None of us are in the room, on the training grounds, in the hotels or buses like the coach and his staff…

    Kovac has done a good job so far, particularly after the great performance in Italy notwithstanding the budale in the stands.

    Samo naprijed Niko….

  23. Tom, New Mexico says:

    The Argentina friendly was great, and a good result despite the score line. If you want improvement you need to play against quality opposition.

  24. HajdukZD says:

    Does anyone else notice how Mandzukic has to come back and play defense for Pranjic on more than one occasion? I can’t be the only one noticing our center forward dropping back to play defense….there is zero logical reason pranjic plays when we have so many other options…..so it means good old corruption!!!

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