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Croatia reshuffle squad for final friendly

By Zoran Radosavljevic

ZAGREB, May 7 (Reuters) - Croatia's final World Cup warm-up, against Hungary, had been planned as a minor affair in which coach Mirko Jozic would test four new players in a squad decimated by injuries and club commitments.

But a shock announcement on Tuesday that key defender Igor Tudor would undergo surgery and miss the World Cup added a more dramatic flavour to Wednesday's warm-up match in Pecs.

In the absence of his entire back line -- Robert Kovac of Bayern Munich, Inter Milan's Dario Simic and Stuttgart's veteran Zvonimir Soldo -- Jozic will have to field an improvised team with many new faces.

He has called up four uncapped players -- in-form Wolfsburg striker Tomislav Maric, Dinamo Zagreb midfielder Jerko Leko, Marko Babic of Bayer Leverkusen and defender Filip Tapalovic of 1860 Munich.

Jozic had previously said that at least 16 players had secured their places in the World Cup-bound squad. Now he says many of those who play on Wednesday will contend for the remaining places.

"With so many sudden changes, our aim (in this match) is not so much to win but to test new players," he said.

The World Cup squad -- to be announced on Friday -- will spend a week training in a secluded Austrian Alpine resort from May 12 to 18 before travelling to Japan. Among the most interesting contenders for the squad is the fit-again Maric, who was regularly on target in the Bundesliga this season until a broken rib sidelined him for almost two months.

He will feature in the attack along with the domestic league's top scorer, the 22-year-old Ivica Olic.

Scoring was a sore point for Jozic sore point this year, with the squad managing only two goalless draws in the first two friendlies before improving to 2-0 over Bosnia last month. An inspired performance would probably earn Maric a place.

Veteran playmaker Robert Prosinecki, who ended a stint with English first division side Portsmouth and is looking to move on, will command the midfield with support from Bayern's Niko Kovac and Fenerbahce's Milan Rapaic.

Hungary coach Imre Gellei has also lost several of his regular starters to injuries.

Midfielder Balazs Molnar of Hungary's new league leaders Zalaegerszeg joined his team mate Krisztian Kenesei on an injured list that also includes Dynamo Kiev's Laszlo Bodnar and Peter Kabat of Levski Sofia.

Gellei called up Dunaferr striker Thomas Sowunmi after Dutch club NAC Breda asked for defender Csaba Feher, who had already made the trip to Hungary, to be rested.

Teams (probable):

Croatia: Tomislav Butina, Josip Simunic, Goran Sablic, Robert Jarni, Filip Tapalovic (or Jasmin Agic), Daniel Saric, Robert Prosinecki, Niko Kovac, Milan Rapaic, Tomislav Maric, Ivica Olic.

Hungary: Gabor Kiraly; Tamas Bodog, Tamas Juhar, Attila Kuttor, Akos Fuzi; Zoltan Boor, Pal Dardai, Krisztian Lisztes, Henrik Rosa; Miklos Feher, Zoltan Gera.

Referee: Fritz Stuchlik (Austria).
05/07/02 09:54 ET
 

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Butina - Šariæ, Sabliæ, Šimuniæ, Jarni - Leko, Tapaloviæ, N. Kovaè - Vugrinec - T. Mariæ, Oliæ is our starting lineup.


According to Vecernji, Prosinecki only trained 2 times in past 10 days... wtf is wrong with that guy? He was never serious about soccer...
 

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I hear you wolf.

If he doesn't want to perform or can't pull him.

But he must be given the minutes to show if he wants or can.
 

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Ljubuski, he will be given the chance for sure, but he needs to train... he needs to be able to lightly run around the field... he will be given the chance no matter what since he is only artist left in the team, but I dont think he is serious about it.. Look at Jarni, he did 24 trainings in 10 days... c'mn
 

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spwolf said:
He was never serious about soccer...
yeah, he'll never amount to a player..
 
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