Croatian striker Nikola Kalinic axed from World Cup squad
— HNS | CFF (@HNS_CFF) June 18, 2018
By Daniel Heinrich
Nikola Kalinic has been cut from Croatia’s World Cup squad after refusing to come on as a substitute against Nigeria on Sunday morning.
Kalinic was asked by head coach Zlatko Dalic to enter the field during the later stages of the match in his side’s 2-0 victory, however he declined due to a back complaint.
Dalic stated that Kalinic also refused to take part in Croatia’s World Cup warm-up match against Brazil and a training session prior to the game against Nigeria.
The coach explained that the decision was made on the basis that he needs his players “fit and ready to play”.
Reports in Croatia also suggest that Kalinic had been unhappy with his role in the national team, which may have contributed to his refusal to play.
The striker had not started any of the national team’s past four games.
Kalinic cannot be replaced in Croatia’s squad as FIFA regulations only permit players to be replaced for serious injuries 24 hours prior to a team’s first match.
Croatia may find themselves short on firepower upfront as Mario Mandzukic is the only other recognised striker in the squad.
Argentina is Croatia’s next round opponents in Group D on Friday June 22. The Croats will be looking put the Kalinic saga behind them and build on their strong victory against Nigeria .