ZAGREB, Sept 21 (Reuters) – Croatia have named Ante Cacic as their new coach in the wake of the sacking of Niko Kovac earlier this month.
"Cacic has been signed unanimously on a three-year contract after extensive deliberations within the Croatian Football Association's (HNS) executive board," the body's president Davor Suker told a news conference on Monday.
"We are confident that we have a appointed a coach who will take Croatia to the European Championship finals."
p> With two Euro 2016 qualifiers left in October, Croatia's hopes of qualifying automatically for the finals are still in the balance & the experienced 61-year-old Cacic, who won the league & cup double with Dinamo Zagreb in 2012, is seen as the man to revive their flagging qualification campaign.
Kovac was fired after Croatia drew 0-0 at Azerbaijan & then suffered a 2-0 defeat by Norway.
In addition, Croatia had a point deducted from their tally after European soccer's governing body UEFA punished them for a racist incident in a 1-1 home draw against Italy in June.
Croatia fans used a chemical agent to imprint a swastika on the pitch of Split's Poljud Stadium & it became visible during the match.
They are third in Group H with 14 points from eight games, four behind leaders Italy & two adrift of second-placed Norway.
They host Bulgaria on Oct. 10 before visiting Malta in their final match three days later.
The top two from each of the nine groups & the best third-placed team will qualify automatically for next year's tournament along with hosts France.
The other eight third-placed teams will enter a two-legged playoff for the remaining four berths. (Writing by Zoran Milosavljevic in Belgrade; Editing by Martyn Herman)
Sports & RecreationSoccerCroatiaNiko KovacDavor Suker