European Football - No way back for Jurcic, says Croatia coach Stimac

Croatia coach Igor Stimac has ruled out bringing back his former assistant Krunoslav Jurcic who was fired by Dinamo Zagreb following their 2-0 Champions League playoff defeat by Austria Vienna on Wednesday.

European Football - No way back for Jurcic, says Croatia coach Stimac

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Krunoslav Jurcic Dinamo Zagreb

Jurcic, who left the Croatia set up for a third spell at Dinamo in November, was axed after the first-leg loss dented the club's hopes of reaching the money-spinning group stage of Europe's premier club competition for the third time in a row.

"Jurcic chose his path and you can't just waltz back into the national team once you've left," Stimac told reporters after naming his 25-man squad for a crunch World Cup Group A qualifier away to bitter Balkan rivals Serbia on September 6 and a friendly in South Korea four days later.

"We face very respectable opposition in Serbia and the priority is to prepare the players for the visit to Belgrade and then the friendly in Seoul," he said.

The Croatians are second in the section with 16 points from seven games, nine ahead of Serbia and three adrift of leaders Belgium whom they play in Zagreb on October 11.

Avoiding defeat in the cauldron of Red Star Belgrade's stadium would keep Croatia in contention for top spot and an automatic berth in next year's 32-team tournament in Brazil, while ending Serbia's slim hopes of a playoff spot.

"We have the same expectations as always, meaning that we want to beat both Serbia and South Korea," said Stimac.

"The Serbia match is obviously crucial and we are optimistic despite losing our last qualifier at home to Scotland.

"Nothing has changed from the reverse fixture against the Serbians, as both teams will field more or less the same players led by the same coaches."

Croatia beat Serbia 2-0 in March in their first meeting as single nations in a charged atmosphere at Dinamo's Maksimir stadium although there was no crowd trouble.

The match in Belgrade will also be held under tight security as the Serbian FA will be keen to avoid any incidents that could be severely punished by world soccer's governing body FIFA.

Serbia coach Sinisa Mihajlovic and FA president Tomislav Karadzic have been under fire from local fans and media after a string of poor results has left the national team with little chance of reaching the World Cup finals.

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