Niko Kovač has stepped up to replace Igor Štimac as Croatia coach, though back-to-back FIFA World Cup qualifying defeats did not cost them a place in the play-offs.
Tuesday's 2-0 Group A reverse in Scotland was Croatia's third of the campaign – the most losses they have suffered in any qualifying competition since independence – and prompted the 46-year-old Štimac to tender his resignation. "I told my players that it's my moral duty to offer my resignation," he explained. "Not because I think I can't finish the job, but because I think it's the right thing to do."
The Croatian Football Federation (HNS) board met to discuss Štimac's future and agreed to bring in Under-21 boss Kovač, 42, as temporary coach with a view to a longer-term contract. HNS president Davor Šuker said: "It was difficult for me to make such a suggestion as Igor was my team-mate in the national team, but we need to maintain the reputation of Croatia." Štimac had been in the job since July 2012.
Capped 83 times, former Croatia captain Kovač was a midfielder, representing Hertha BSC Berlin, Bayer 04 Leverkusen, Hamburger SV and FC Bayern München, moving from pitch to bench during a spell with FC Salzburg. He served Salzburg as youth coach and assistant coach before taking charge of Croatia's U21s earlier this year.
Croatia will discover their play-off opponents in Monday's draw.
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