HNK Hajduk Split sealed their sixth Croatian First League title last month and have appointed a new coach as they seek a record-equalling seventh in 2005/06.
Hajduk secured the championship with a 6-0 victory against NK Varteks on 28 May but interim coach Igor Stimac immediately stepped down, announcing that Varteks's Miroslav Blaževic would take over.
The new man could not prevent midfielder Ivan Leko leaving to join Club Brugge KV, but remains confident of leading the club to more success. "Hajduk have got their biggest signing," Blaževic said, "they have got me!"
Another title would draw Hajduk level with seven-time winners NK Dinamo Zagreb, but under Josip Kuže's tutelage the capital club will be out to deny them. Dinamo finished a disappointing seventh last season and have welcomed back Romanian striker Dumitru Mitu as they chase a return to more familiar climes.
Veteran midfielder Zoran Mamic has also arrived and will have time to settle before Dinamo begin their campaign at newcomers NK Cibalia on 23 July. Hajduk face NK Osijek the same day, while HNK Rijeka and Varteks visit NK Pula Staro Cesko and NK Kamen Ingrad respectively.
Varteks's season has already commenced, in the UEFA Intertoto Cup last Saturday, with a 2-1 defeat at KS Dinamo Tirana. NK Slaven Koprivnica enjoyed a more successful start with a 1-0 home win against NK Ptuj, courtesy of Mario Dodik's late strike.
At the other end of the table, Osijek look set for another relegation fight. They just avoided the drop last term and new coach Tomislav Steinbrueckner will have to rebuild without starlet Josip Tadic, who has signed for Bayer 04 Leverkusen. Meanwhile, Steinbrueckner's predecessor Stjepan Cordas has replaced Hrvoje Braovic at Kamen Ingrad.
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