The midfield player Mario Stanic has announced his retirement from international football and was therefore unavailable for inclusion in Croatia's 21-man squad to face Estonia in a UEFA EURO 2004™ qualifier on 11 June.
'Time to withdraw'
The 31-year-old Chelsea FC player said that national coach Otto Baric had accepted his decision. "I have given enough to the Croatian team and it is time to step aside as the country has enough quality players," said Stanic, who has two years left on his Chelsea contract.
Stanic first played for Croatia in a 7-1 victory against Estonia in September 1995. He then represented his country at the 1996 UEFA European Championship in England and the 1998 and 2002 FIFA World Cups. In all he won 48 caps, scoring seven times.
Bar the omission of Stanic, there were no surprises in the squad which will travel to Tallinn. Robert Kovac is included despite injuring a groin in FC Bayern München's final game of the season last weekend. The defence is already missing the suspended Igor Tudor.
Baric has said he may play "Dario Šimic in the centre of defence instead of on the right", should Kovac fail to regain full fitness. Robert Kovac's brother, Niko, returns after sitting out the matches against Belgium and Andorra because of injury, while there is a place for 22-year-old Marko Babic from Bayer 04 Leverkusen. Danijel Hrman from NK Varteks and Grazer AK's Mario Tokic are also selected.
Lead the line
Dado Prso, Ivica Olic and Tomislav Maric are competing to lead the line, with Boško Balaban and Marijo Maric the other forwards. Croatia have seven points from four games, leaving them three points behind a Bulgaria side who can further extend their lead by beating Belgium at home on 7 June.
Pletikosa, Butina, Šimic, Simunic, Zivkovic, Tomas, R Kovac, Tokic, Srna, Rosso, N Kovac, Rapajic, Leko, Babic, Hrman, Mornar, Prso, Olic, T Maric, M Maric, Balaban.
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