Croatia head coach Zlatko Dalic has revealed the reason behind the expulsion of striker Nicola Kalinic from his team’s World Cup camp in Russia.
The AC Milan star was dropped from the squad earlier on Monday with widespread reports claiming it was because of an injury.
Dalic has, however, dispelled those reports by confirming that the 31-year-old was sent home following his refusal to enter the team’s World Cup opener in Group D as a substitute.
His tantrums didn’t affect his team as goals from Oghenekaro Etebo (own goal) and Luka Modric (penalty) ensured that the Europeans secured victory in their opening World Cup game for the first time in 20 years (since the 1998 World Cup in France).
The 2-0 win over Nigeria was enough to propel Croatia to the top of Group D.
The decision to boot Kalinic out of the camp was made by Coach Dalic after the win on Saturday night.
The former Portsmouth man had been a regular starter for the team during the World Cup qualifiers with a good record of 15 goals in 42 appearances for his country.
He, however, lost his place after a poor season for his Italian club.
His dismissal was conveyed in a statement released by Croatia.
In the statement, Dalic said: “During the Nigeria encounter, Kalinic was warming up and was supposed to come on in the second half.”
“However, he then stated that he wasn’t ready to come on due to a back issue. The same thing happened during the Brazil friendly in England, as well as before the practice session on Sunday. I have calmly accepted that, and since I need my players fit and ready to play, I have made this decision.”
According to FIFA rules, Croatia won’t be able to replace Nikola Kalinic in their squad since that can only be done at least 24 hours before the team’s opening match at the tournament.