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Football: Kovac faces tough Croatia debut in Iceland

Former Croatia captain Niko Kovac makes his bow as national team coach in the first leg of their World Cup qualifying play-off against Iceland in Reykjavik on Friday. The 42-year-old replaced Igor Stimac in the dugout in October, taking over a team in poor form and under pressure from the local media. Kovac may be inexperienced as a coach, but his appointment was welcomed by the media, the players and fans thanks to his reputation as a disciplined hard worker dating back to his playing days. Now he is expected to demand the same from his team.

Croatia recall Pranjic for Iceland World Cup playoff

ZAGREB (Reuters) - Left back Danijel Pranjic has been recalled for Croatia's World Cup playoff against Iceland on Friday and next Tuesday after first choice Ivan Strinic suffered an abdominal injury. Striker Ivica Olic is doubtful for the first leg in Reykjavik after scoring and then limping off in VfL Wolfsburg's 2-1 Bundesliga home win over Borussia Dortmund on Saturday but should be fit for the return match in Zagreb's Maksimir stadium.

Croatia recall Pranjic for Iceland World Cup playoff

ZAGREB (Reuters) - Left back Danijel Pranjic has been recalled for Croatia's World Cup playoff against Iceland on Friday and next Tuesday after first choice Ivan Strinic suffered an abdominal injury. Striker Ivica Olic is doubtful for the first leg in Reykjavik after scoring and then limping off in VfL Wolfsburg's 2-1 Bundesliga home win over Borussia Dortmund on Saturday but should be fit for the return match in Zagreb's Maksimir stadium.

Football: CSKA fans arrested on flight to Man City clash

Fans of CSKA Moscow flying from Russia to Manchester ahead of the Champions League clash with Manchester City were arrested in Copenhagen after their abusive behaviour forced the plane to make an emergency landing in Denmark, a report said Monday. Russia's Sport Express daily said in a report on its website that half a dozen CSKA fans were arrested by Danish police after the plane made an emergency landing at Copenhagen airport.

Kovac calls up uncapped Males for Iceland playoff

(Reuters) - Croatia coach Niko Kovac has recalled striker Leon Benko and included uncapped midfielder Mate Males in his 25-man squad for the Balkan country's two-legged World Cup playoff against Iceland later this month. Kovac, who took over from Igor Stimac in October after Croatia took one point from their last four qualifying games, said the atmosphere in the squad had improved and was confident they would qualify for the 32-nation tournament in Brazil next year.

Football: Atmosphere just right as Croatia eye Brazil

Croatia's interim coach Niko Kovac on Thursday named a 25-man squad for next month's World Cup play-off against Iceland, voicing optimism that his team will qualify for Brazil. "The atmosphere in our ranks is excellent and the players, who are awaiting the matches against Iceland, are really motivated," Kovac told reporters. "We are convinced that we will achieve what is expected from us, to qualify for the World Cup," the 41-year-old added.

Football: CSKA hit with partial stadium ban over Toure racism

Russian club CSKA Moscow were on Wednesday hit with a partial stadium ban by UEFA due to racist abuse of Manchester City's Yaya Toure in a Champions League match. In a statement, UEFA said that their disciplinary body had ordered the closure of Sector D of CSKA's Arena Khimki for the club's next Champions League game against Germany's Bayern Munich on November 27. "The fight against racism is a high priority for UEFA. The European governing body has a zero tolerance policy towards racism and discrimination on the pitch and in the stands," UEFA said.

Football: Dinamo Zagreb sack Ivankovic

Croatian champions Dinamo Zagreb on Tuesday fired coach Branko Ivankovic only two months after his appointment following a series of poor results. "Ivankovic is no longer Dinamo coach," a club's statement confirmed, adding that sports director Zoran Mamic will act as interim manager. The 59-year-old Ivankovic took over Dinamo Zagreb in early September for the third time. His predecessor Krunoslav Jurcic was sacked after the club's 2-0 Champions League qualifying defeat against Austria Vienna.

Football: Croatia sack Stimac, Kovac named interim coach

Croatia's Football Federation (HNS) on Wednesday sacked Igor Stimac, who had offered to resign following the 2-0 defeat to Scotland in their final 2014 World Cup qualifier, and named Niko Kovac as interim coach. "Stimac approached me immediately after the match in Glasgow and offered his resignation and that we should make a decision, which we eventually did," HNS head Davor Suker told reporters after the body's extraordinary session.

Football: Croatia squad for World Cup qualifiers

Croatia coach Igor Stimac on Monday named a 26-man squad for next month's World Cup Group qualifiers against Belgium and Scotland. Croatia, currently second in their Group A, play against Belgium at home on October 11 and four days later face Scotland in Glasgow. Squad Goalkeepers: Stipe Pletikosa (Rostov/RUS), Danijel Subasic (Monaco/FRA), Dario Kresic (Lokomotiv Moscow/RUS)
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