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Croatia send Nikola Kalinic home from 2018 World Cup

19 June, 2018, 04:23 | Author: Lula Armstrong
  • Nikola Kalinic of ACF Fiorentina celebrates after scoring a goal during the Serie A match between ACF Fiorentina and FC Torino at Stadio Artemio Franchi

Nikola Kalinic has been sent home from the World Cup by Croatia head coach Zlatko Dalic after the AC Milan forward refused to come on as a second-half substitute during the 2-0 defeat of Nigeria on Saturday, according to reports.

Kalinic started on the bench for the fourth successive worldwide match but was asked to enter the fray by boss Zlatko Dalic in the closing stages of the Group D clash in Kaliningrad.

"He warmed up for the game against Nigeria, he was supposed to go in, but he said he was not ready".

Kalinic, who was unable to break into the starting lineup during the build-up to the tournament, also missed a warm-up friendly with Brazil and did not train on Sunday.

"However, he then stated that he wasn't ready to come on due to a back issue".


However, in a short statement before training at Croatia's base in Roshchino, north-west of Saint Petersburg, Dalic claimed injury was the reason for Kalinic's return to Croatia.

The 30-year-old former Blackburn Rovers striker - who has 42 caps for his country - scored six times in 31 Serie A appearances for AC Milan this season. "I have calmly accepted that, and since I need my players fit and ready to play, I have made this decision", explained Dalic.

Modric converted in the 71st minute when referee Sandro Ricci awarded a penalty after William Ekong held onto Mario Mandzukic, the only recognised Croatia No 9 following Kalinic's dismissal.

Croatia's next match is against Argentina on Thursday, before they finish the group stages against Iceland on June 26.

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