Zlatko Dalić finally released a statement this afternoon explaining why Nikola Kalinić has been sent home from Russia.
June 18, 2018 – Two days after their big win over Nigeria in the first round of Group D, troubling news has shaken the Croatia national team – Croatia coach Zlatko Dalić has sent home an unsatisfied Nikola Kalinic. The story was initially released this morning stating back pain as the reason, which is what the media learned from the staff in Russia.
The 30-year-old footballer from Solin was supposed to play against Nigeria, though he complained of back pain. Instead of going in for Mandžukić 86 minutes into the game, it was Pjaca to enter the game instead. Kalinić was reportedly not satisfied with his status on the national team and according to information from Russia, refused to play.
“You will know everything tomorrow,” Dalić said when asked on Sunday if Kalinić refused to enter the game, and indeed, Dalić released a statement on the matter after a press conference this afternoon with Milan Badelj and Šime Vrsaljko.
“He warmed up for the game against Nigeria, he was supposed to go in, but he said he was not ready. He wasn’t ready against Brazil. He was not ready for training yesterday. I need healthy and ready players,” said Dalić quickly before heading back to the team, reports Index.hr.
Croatia is now left with 22 players. Kalinić did not train on Sunday, along with Vrsaljko and Kramarić. National team doctor Boris Nemec said that Vrsaljko and Kramarić were injured and that Kalinic had problems with his back, but that no one was seriously hurt.
“There is no need for special tests. We know the cause,” Nemec said.
Kalinić also allegedly refused to enter the game in a friendly match with Brazil for the same reason. Dalić accepted everything quietly then, but apparently lost his patience.
“The team consists of 23 players, and everyone has to live for it, otherwise there is no atmosphere. Ćorluka is important to us and without any complaints, he accepted to be a reserve,” Dalić said at a press conference.
Kalinić (30) made his debut in May 2008 in a friendly match with Moldova, and in 42 appearances, he scored 15 goals for Croatia. A month later, Kalinić played at the Euros in Austria and Switzerland and was part of the national team at Euro 2012 although he did not play a minute. He did not go to the World Cup in Brazil, but was on the Euro list in France, where his goal and assist helped Croatia win against Spain.