Croatia manager Slaven Bilic has
dropped veteran international strikers Mladen Petric and Ivan
Klasnic from the squad for next month's European Championships in
Poland and Ukraine.
"It was hard to leave them out but it's part of the job,"
Bilic told a news conference on Thursday. "They are quality
players who have done a lot for our side. Unfortunately, they
are strikers, the one part of our team where we have the best
options so there was simply no room for them."
Klasnic, 32, who underwent a kidney transplant in 2007, had
a disappointing season at Bolton wanderers, while Petric, 31,
was also plagued by injuries and poor form at German side
Bilic is likely to pair in-form Everton striker Nikica
Jelavic and Wolfsburg's Mario Mandzukic up front. Two other
stalwarts, Bayern Munich's Ivica Olic and Brazilian-born Eduardo
of Shakhtar, have not played regularly this season.
The 43-year old coach, who took over Croatia in 2006,
confirmed he would step down after the finals.
"This is my last tournament. After this, I shall certainly
no longer be the national coach. But before that, we must focus
on the big job that's coming up," Bilic said.
Croatia open their campaign in Group C against Ireland on
"With all due respect I feel for them, we want to start the
tournament with three points. They are our chance," Bilic said.
He said Ireland coach Giovanni Trapattoni was sticking to
tried and tested players and no surprises were likely.
"They are tough, strong, well-organised and defend very
well. The only surprise could be if Trapattoni made them more
offensive. But that would only make us happier," Bilic said.
Also in Group C are world and European champions Spain and
Goalkeepers: Stipe Pletikosa (FC Rostov), Danijel Subasic
(Hajduk Split), Ivan Kelava (Dinamo Zagreb); Goran Blazevic
Defenders: Vedran Corluka (Tottenham Hotspur), Sime Vrsaljko (Dinamo
Zagreb), Dejan Lovren (Olympique Lyon), Josip Simunic (Dinamo
Zagreb), Ivan Strinic (Dnipro), Gordon Schildenfeld (Eintracht
Frankfurt), Domagoj Vida (Dinamo Zagreb), Jurica Buljat
(Maccabi), Daniel Pranjic (Bayern Munich).
Midfielders: Darijo Srna (Shakhtar Donetsk), Ognjen Vukojevic
(Dynamo Kiev), Ivan Rakitic (Sevilla), Tomislav Dujmovic (Dynamo
Moscow), Luka Modric (Tottenham Hotspur), Milan Badelj (Dinamo Zagreb),
Niko Kranjcar (Tottenham Hotspur), Ivan Perisic (Borussia Dortmund), Ivo
Forwards: Mario Mandzukic (Wolfsburg), Eduardo Da Silva
(Shakhtar Donetsk), Nikica Jelavic (Everton), Nikola Kalinic
(Dnipro), Ivica Olic (Bayern Munich).
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