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Croatia Coach Explains Nikola Kalinic's Sending Home from World Cup

Croatia Coach Explains Nikola Kalinic's Sending Home from World Cup

While Kalinic cited a back injury as the reason for his refusal, many believe that it was due to his frustration with being left out of the starting lineup.

The Vatreni won their opening match on Saturday night, defeating Nigeria 2-0.

Croatia coach, Zlatko Dalic, has sent striker Nikola Kalinic home from the World Cup after refusing to come on against Nigeria.

A press conference has been called for 16:15 on Monday afternoon, when it is expected that Kalinic's expulsion from the squad will be confirmed.

"He was supposed to enter the game but he told me he wasn't fit", he was quoted as saying by the Sun. He also refused to answer direct questions about Kalinic. 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.

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According to Croatian newspaper, 24sata, the AC Milan striker reportedly refused his manager's order, claiming he had a back injury.

As for Croatia, they must play the rest of the tournament with 22 players, with no replacements being allowed at this stage.

A decision was made later in the day to send the on-loan AC Milan striker home, leaving Mario Mandzukic as the only out-and-out striker available to Dalic.

"I have calmly accepted that, and since I need my players fit and ready to play, I have [to make] this decision".

There was no sign of Kalinic as Croatia trained at their Saint Petersburg base on Sunday ahead of their second Group game against Argentina.