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Who Will Replace Niko Kovač? 5 Front-Runners


Yesterday’s sacking of Niko Kovač has left the Croatian football federation with another problem – who will take over?

Croatian Football Federation President Davor Šuker and his board have said that a replacement will be named in the next 10 days or so.

After ruling out that the new boss will be a foreigner, the former striker and his board have their hands full selecting a replacement from limited domestic stocks.

Igor Štimac, Slaven Bilić, Zlatko Kranjčar, Otto Barić and Mirko Jozić have all come and gone since the golden 1990’s era of Miroslav Blažević. So who is left?

Here are five of the front-runners for the job.

Zoran Vulić

(photo: Drago Sopta)

(photo: Drago Sopta)

A former Hajduk Split and Croatia internation, Vulić also had stints in Spain and France. His 17-year managerial career has seen him coach Hajduk, Rijeka, Istra, Split and Croatia U-19. Vulić also served as assistant in the Croatian national team.

Nenad Gračan

(photo: Drago Sopta)

(photo: Drago Sopta)

Another former player and another with 17 years coaching experience, Gračan has managed Rijeka, Hajduk Split, FC Koper, Osijek, Dinamo Zagreb, Istra, Nafta Lendava, Croatia Sesvete and is currently in charge of the Croatia U-21 team.

Robert Prosinečki


Prosinečki, who ironically played in part in Kovač’s dismissal after helping Azerbaijan keep Croatia goaless in Baku last week, has had coaching spells in Serbia and Turkey. Prosinečki was part of Slaven Bilić’s coaching staff with the national team between 2006 and 2010.

Nenad Bjelica


Bjelica is a former Croatian international and is currently in charge as head coach of Italian Serie B club Spezia. Bjelica led Austria Wien to the 2013–14 UEFA Champions League group stages.

Ante Čačić


Čačić, who was one of the first ten football coaches in Croatia to get the UEFA Pro Licence, currently is boss of NK Lokomotiva in the Croatian first division. He has also had spells at Dinamo Zagreb, Maribor and was Libya and Croatia U-21’s assistent coach. He has close to 30 years experience on the bench.


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