Thursday, 25 February 2010


SCORERS: Bule, Hajovic

On Thursday afternoon Lokomotiva resumed their HNL1 season with a comfortable 2-0 win over crisis club Varteks. Lokomotiva looks a safe bet to keep their top flight status despite losing Domogoj Antolic, Dalibor Pandza and Sime Vrsaljko during the winter break. Moldovan Gheorghe Andronic arrived, but it was the tried and trusted Nino Bule who added his eighth of the season to start the scoring. Tomislav Hajovic put away the second from the penalty spot. Varteks have serious financial troubles which could potentially see the club become extinct before the end of the season. The Varazdin club is famous for advancing such players as Igor Cvitanovic, Davor Vugrinec, Sasa Bjelanovic, Daniel Hrman, Nikola Pokrivac and the late former Croatia international Silvestar Sabolcki. They had been one of the strongest performing sides in HNL1, but experienced a number of set backs including the death of influential club president Andelko Herjavec in 2001. This winter they lost stars Igor Prahic and Goran Mujanovic, plus coach Drazen Besek without major compensation leaving them with only Matija Smrekar as their one sellable asset. With no bid arriving the clubs is at the mercy of local businessman from Varazdin to keep the club in operation.

Scorers: Stupcic/ Vuka, Golubovic
Istra began their new life under Russian ownership with defeat against relegation rivals Medimurje. Marijan Vuka opened the scoring on 8 minutes for the away side. Istra suffered a major blow 11 minutes later when new signing Matias Chago was red carded on his debut. Another debutant Bosko Stupcic made a more positive impression as he struck the equaliser to put Istra back in it. Fellow Serb Bojan Golubovic however put Medimurje back in the driving seat after following in from Aganovic. This was a very positive result for Medimurje who are looking over their shoulder at rejuvenated NK Zagreb.

Scorers: T Juric, Pavlivic
On paper this looked a difficult match for Cibalia as Zapresic gave debuts to several new signings that have bolstered their side during the winter break. However second place Cibalia made light work of the match and were in front as soon as 4 minutes when promising youngster Tomislav Juric fired home. Tomislav Pavlicic had a chance to extend the lead when Malcic was brought down put missed from the penalty spot. Pavlicic made amends in the second half by sealing the match with assistance from Josip Lukacevic.

Scorers: Surac O.G/Santini
Sibenik had to settle for a point on the resumption of their season after being held to a 1-1 draw by Zadar. Zadar took the lead on 24 minutes when Ivan Santini took advantage after Goran Blazevic failed to hold the strike. Sibenik put on the pressure to gain an equaliser, and achieved their aim just before half time. Mehmad Alispahic's centre was turned into his own net by experienced midfielder Jarov Surac. Zadar had the better chances in the second half, but Zelimir Terkes was unable to convert. Zadar gave a debut to new signing Davor Piskor who arrived from Zagreb.

Scorers: Dodo, Mandzukic 3, Badelj, Tomecak
Newly installed Austrian coach Adolf Pintar was given a taster of the task ahead for his Sesvete side as they were pummelled 6-0 by league leaders Dinamo. The writing was on the wall with the game barely a minute old when new Brazilian signing Dodo opened bagged his first in Dinamo colours on his debut after good work from Vrdoljak and Sammir. Dodo then turned provider, combining with Vrsaljko to set up Mandzukic to strike home. That was the last bit of action Dodo would see as he was replaced with only 28 minutes gone due to injury. Mandzukic however was still eager for goals with his international place under threat and bagged his second after assistance from Sammir. Sesvete appeared to throw in the towell in the second half as Badelj has a empty netted at his mercy when scoring the fourth. Substitute Ivan Tomecak was then in for the 5th thanks to good play from Badelj. Mandzukic wrapped up the sixth and final goal after a strong run by Kramaric opened the opportunity. Dinamo made minor changes to the side for the game with Barbaric and Cufre former a new defensive partnership and Vrsaljko operated in place of Etto on the right. Miroslav Slepicka sat it out as Dodo took his place, but will be afforded opportunities next match with the former Zapresic man set to be out due to injury.

Scorers: Abdurhimi/ Dalovic
Igor Stimac expressed his satisfaction with a point in a hard fought draw with HNK Rijeka for NK Zagreb. Zagreb could have had all three points if not for a comedy of errors involving Mario Tokic, Jethon and Marin Skender that let in in form Montenegro striker Radomir Dalovic to score in the 87th minute. Zagreb had taken the lead through Croatia under 21 midfielder Besart Adhurahimi and had other chances through Davor Vugrinec. Rijeka also had their moments as Skender denied Dalovic when well placed to score. Rijeka gave debuts to new full backs Vladimir Lazarevski and Mikael Yourrasky. Zagreb also fielded new signing Tokic, whilst Marin Vidosevic impressed at left midfield after arriving from Imotski.

Scorers: Vukman
Karlovac were once again strong at the back after a highly impressive win over Osijek which sees them leapfrog their opponents and into fourth place. Defender Nevan Vukman was their matchwinner after he dispatched Zvonko Pamic's cross. Karlovac have made few changes to their side and seem to have the right formula for survival even in the abscence of a potent goalscorer. Osijek meantime have had an unsettling winter break and were without the suspended Domogoj Vida and Jurica Pranjic, plus Josip Knezevic who signed for Amkar Perm. Osijek will want to bounce back as soon as possible.

Sunday, 21 February 2010


Dinamo Zagreb star striker Mario Mandzukic could be on the verge of a move to Russian Premier League after Zenit St Petersburg were reported to be preparing a 9m Euro bid. The 23 year old Croatia international has been in muted form in the first half of the season, but has still delivered 11 goals in all competitions and 7 assists. After signing goalgetter Alexander Kerzakhov, Zenit see Mandzukic who has impressive ball carrying skills as a perfect partner.

Dinamo have been happy to offload Mandzo this winter if they recieved a bid in the region of 8m Euro's and Zenit seem capable of matching that fee, especially after offloading Fatih Tekke to Rubin Kazan and sending back Matija Kezman to PSG. CSKA Moscow and Dinamo Moscow also showed an interest in the player, who arrived from NK Zagreb in 2007.

Elsewhere Sasa Bjelanovic moved onto 6 goals for the season as Vicenza demolished Gallipoli 5-0. Mario Budimir continues to show progress at Ergotelis after netting the equaliser in a 1-1 draw against Olympiakos.

Wednesday, 17 February 2010


Hajduk Split castaways Ivan Rodic and Hjorve Vejic are reportedly set to leave the club after moves were made for the players in the remaining transfer window still open. 23 year former Sibenik forward Rodic looks bound for Russian Premier League club Spartak Nalchik ending a unhappy 6 months at the Poljud. Vejic, 33 is a former Croatian international who played in Euro 2008. The central defender was put on the scrapheap after refusing to reduce his wages. Recently departed coach Edy Reja said Vejic's absence would be felt by the team and it appears their is no going back as the player is set for a move to China.

Meanwhile, NK Zadar have added to their depleted squad by signing NK Zagreb forward Davor Piskor on a free transfer. Zadar who lost three key players to Hajduk as well as Bosnian forward Edin Saranovic, will give the player plenty of opportunities after he was deemed surplus to replacement at Zagreb since the arrival of Goran Ljubojevic.

Stjepan Poljak
is still attempting to settle his ongoing dispute with Turkish club Eskirespor and is being rumoured to be in China with Shanghai Shenua on trial. The side coached by Miroslav Blazevic also are tracking Dario Zahora. This follows a unsuccessful offer made to Goran Mujanovic, who is trialling with Legia Warsaw and being pursued by Slaven Belupo.

Saturday, 13 February 2010


Due to bad weather, the Croatian league will return to action next week after two months away on winter break. December and January has seen the usual shake up of playing staff with numerous comings and goings. Highlights of the winter transitional period has been Dejan Lovren's move from Dinamo to Olympic Lyon, Edy Reja's parting with Hajduk to coach Lazio and Josip Knezevic's switch to Amkar Perm. Moves for Mario Mandzukic, Ermin Zec, Senijad Ibricic and Domogoj Vida failed to materialised and there were few arrivals as most sides turned their youth academies to fill in for any out going players. Their was however a swift exit from much maligned Greek international Dmitrios Papadopoulos and Bojan Vrucina completed a move to Hapoel Tel Aviv from Slaven Belupo.

Position: 1st
Player to Watch: Milan Badelj

Dinamo have had a successful transfer window after making another major sale following Dejan Lovren's switch to Lyon. The deal also gave them the power to cut the size of their squad after transferring Dmitrios Papadopoulos to Celta, Emiliano Villa to Tirana, Carlos to Shandong Luneng, Ilija Sivonjic and Guilermo Suarez to Inter Zapresic. Matias Chago has also been loaned out to Istra 1961. The sale of Lovren and Carlos, plus serious injury to Igor Biscan does leave Dinamo short in defence with 35 year old Robert Kovac, Tomislav Barbaric and left back Leandro Cufre, the only experienced defenders remaining on the clubs books. Dinamo's winter break results however have been good with Mario Mandzukic having refound his goalscoring touch and youngsters Domogoj Antolic, Sime Vrsaljko, Mario Situm and Mirslav Komorski offering a lot of hope for the clubs future. Dinamo also retained star players Pedro Morales and Milan Badelj who is expected to play a major role in the remainder of the season.

As for arrivals, Dinamo kept their hands firmly in their pockets during winter break, preferring to give opportunities to the highly promising Andrej Kramaric as opposed to recruiting Ermin Zec. Mamic is also preparing to sweat it out with Osijek over Domogoj Vida. Dinamo did take two new strikers, but Karlo Primorac arrives as a free agent on a six month deal, whilst the pacy Dodo also arrives cheaply from Inter Zapresic. It is hard to see further than another title win for Dinamo this season. Also do not count out the rise of another Croatian star after Dinamo spring cleaned the squad to make more room for players from their academy.

Position: 3rd
Player to Watch: Arjian Ademi

Sibenik still have a major chance of Europa Liga qualification after retaining the services of their highly talented Bosnian duo Mehmad Alispahic and Ermin Zec. It was not expected that Zec particularly would still be in a Sibenik shirt in 2010 with the club actively trying to sell him. Anderlecht however only presented a bid in the form of a loan with intention to buy later, whilst Dinamo and Hajduk only sounded out the player in the media, with the club claiming to have recieved no official bid. Zec, who is still only 21 could still yet to Ukraine or Russia. However for now he stays in Croatia, with the club still well placed in the league and still in the Cup. If Zec and Alispahic were to go, Jusuf Dajic and Ivan Bozic appear able deputy's up front, whilst Sibenik are very happy with midfielders Arjian Ademi, Nemi Husmani and Antonio Jakolis. Should Sibenik retain all their stars then a top five four is highly realistic. As for arrivals and departures there has been few. Four leave with only one arrival.

Position: 2nd
Player to Watch: Tomislav Pavlicic

Cibalia coach Stanko Mrsic would appear the outstanding coach of the season in Croatia as things stand having taken a Cibalia side with few stars into second. Cibalia however do have a solid side performing at their best. The clubs policy this winter was to retain the current staff and keep to the same system which has served them so well. Cibalia is a team built on experience with players like Josip Miladorvic, Dino Kresinger, Mario Lucic, Boris Leutar and Tomislav Pavlivic. Their one young talent may be of interest to Croatia. Keeper Mario Antolovic is just 20 and has already attracted interest from French side Strasbourg. Cibalia may be chased down by clubs of more financial might such as Hajduk, Slaven Belupo, Rijeka and Osijek in the coming months, but as yet Stanko Mrsic's team show no intention of moving aside.

Position: 4th
Player to Watch: Domogoj Vida

Osijek's winter break has been not all good for the club with financial pressures forcing them to part with key players and several key players engaged in long running contract talks. One of those is Domogoj Vida, who it seems has outgrown Osijek and was interesting Dinamo Zagreb as replacement for Dejan Lovren. Osijek are holding out for somewhere in the region of 2m Euro's. However selling key midfielder Josip Knezevic to Amkar Perm also did not appear to be in their plans as cast aways Goran Todorevic and Antonio Hrncevic refused to part forcing them to sell. The departure of Karlo Primorac on a free was also not Osijek's intention. Sporting director Dragan Vukoja did tie up Vedran Jugovic, Ivan Milicevic and Josip Barisic to sign new deals, but coach Tomislav Steinbruckner has been frustrated by unsatisfactory offers made to Jurica Pranjic and Vedran Nikisic. No replacement has been signed for Knezevic with Milan Pavlivic expected to step in. Osijek still remains a young talented side who can still aspire for the top 5.

Position: 5th
Player to Watch: Zvonko Pamic

Coach Igor Pamic may have his work cut out this spring with Slaven Belupo, Hajduk and Rijeka all on the coat tails of Karlovac. Karlovac retained the playing staff that did phenomenally well for them in the first half of the campaign which gives them a chance. Finishing in the top five is going to be hard, but Karlovac have a massive chance of keeping their first division status by the summer. Despite the impression form of Zvonko Pamic, Rijeka chose not to recall him which is a big plus for Karlovac. The club has been sounded defensively, but need more goals going forward with their top scorer having netted only 4 times.

Position: 6th
Player to Watch: Matias Delic

Slaven Belupo spent December and January fine tuning their squad which looks very able to mount a challenge on the sides immediately above them. Belupo are one of the more financially stable Croatian sides having sold Mato Jajalo to Siena for 2m Euro's and Stipe Lapic to South Korea in the summer. This winter they succeeded in keeping a healthy balance sheet by transfering Bojan Vrucina to Hapoel Tel Aviv. The club are arguably one striker short, but will give opportunities to youngsters Francis Tepuric and Matija Poredski to impress alongside their player of the year so far Matias Delic. The club also has 3 very attack minded midfielders in Aljosa Vojinovic, Srebenko Posavec and Nikola Safaric, so will not be short of forward thinking players. Belupo were looking to take free agent Goran Mujanovic, but any deal would only occur should his trial in Poland with Legia Warsaw prove unsuccessful. One concern for Belupo is that they have numerous players out of contract at the end of the season. Zlatko Dalic already allowed Igor Gal, Mario Bilen, Sinisa Rozman and Krunoslav Jambrusic to go free, whilst Csaba Czismadia returned to Hungary with Ferencvaros. The experienced Filip Marcic will fill his place. If Belupo click second place might not even be out the question.

Position: 7th
Player to Watch: Senijad Ibricic

Hajduk's never ending instability which has characterised their season continued further this week as coach Edy Reja left for Lazio. Although the club recieved compensation its likely that will quickly disappear on a squad which is obscenely large. Hajduk currently have a side full of experienced Croatian stars who they've placed in seperate training from the squad after being deemed surplus to requirements. Marijan Buljat, Hjorve Vejic, Ante Seric, Dario Jertec, Mladen Pelaic, Ivo Smoje, Ivan Rodic, Ante Aracic and Kreso Ljubicic all face very uncertain futures. Even after Josko Svasgusa cut these players from the squad, they are still able to name a bench which features Ante Vukusic, Marin Tomasov, Jurica Buljat, Duje Cop, Mario Ticinovic, Marin Ljubicic and Goran Jozinovic. With no member of Hajduk's staff eligible to go free at the end of the season Hajduk face a serious financial crisis, which makes the inability to cash in on Bosnia Herzegovina international Boris Pandza and Senijad Ibricic all the more obscure. Hajduk appear to be waiting for offers for many of their players, though nobody is likely to walk out on their contracts to take a lesser contract elsewhere leaving the situation deadlocked. Hajduk look set to pay out compensation, but their plan appears to be to use money obtained from Drago Gabric and Nikola Kalinic to pay the squad and then to engage in a fire sale in the summer when players such as Ivan Strinic, Daniel Subasic and Anas Sharbini could become sellable assets.

On the pitch Hajduk have been lightened by the form of youngsters Mark Livaja and Matej Jonjic. Mirko Oremus, Mario Maloca, Cop and Ticinovic are also expected to push on in the remainder of the season. Frustratingly for Hajduk there has been little activity on the transfer front with only Brazilian misfits Paraiba and Thiaquinho heading out the exit door. Hajduk's union with HNL2 side Mosor is positive, however whilst the clubs hoards such a large number of players who have no future at the club, Split's finest remains a ticking timebomb. Stanko Poklepovic has been charged with pushing the side into the Europa Liga. However with the side sitting in 7th place he has a lot of work to do.

Position: 9th
Player to Watch: Radomir Dalovic

After a disappointing first half of the campaign, Rijeka sought to right the wrongs in their club. Nastja Ceh, Mirslav Karoglan, Johann Smith and Jonathan Germano have been sent packing. The arrival of Macedonian international Vlad Lazarevski and Belgian Mikael Yourasawsky seems to have stabilised the defence. A new formation involving Ramon Fernandez, Sandi Krizman and Hjorve Strok behind a revitalised Radomir Dalovic has also given the side new impotus. The team now appears to posess less journeyman and should make moves into the top half of the table. Hopes the recruit Goran Mujanovic and Stjepan Poljak may have helped the club further as the squad appears to lack the depth for a top 5 finish.

Position: 8th
Player to Watch: Nino Bule

With Lokomotiva sitting comfortably in midtable, Dinamo decided it was the right time to end the loans of Domogoj Antolic, Emiliano Villa, Dalibor Pandza and Sime Vrsaljko. Antolic and Vrsaljko have big futures at Dinamo, but Pandza was sent down to Dinamo's second team and Villa has returned to Albania. Dinamo hope Moldovan wizzkid Gheorghe Andronic will fill the boots of Antolic, whilst keeper Ivan Keleva, Josip Pikvaric and Matej Males have also been told to stay with Lokomotiva. Whilst players such as Tomislav Puljic, Tomislav Martinac, Matej Bagaric, Nino Bule and Zjelko Sopic continue to perform it is hard to see Loko losing their top flight status. Bule has scored 8 times already this season, but the team will hope for more from Croatia Under 21 player Marko Simic who has barely figured so far.

Position: 10th
Player to Watch: Ilija Sivonjic

Zapresic have been one of the most active sides in the transfer market as they released 10 and brought in Nenad Nikolic, Tomislav Zivko, Ilija Sivonjic, Sasa Balic and Guillermo Suarez. Dodo was also recruited by Dinamo to help fund the moves. It would seem that Dinamo are attempting to back Zapresic's effort to stay up, after sending Sivonjic back to Inter despite the player scoring 6 goals in just 11 league appearences this season. Dinamo also sent misfit Suarez down to Zapresic rather than see him train alone in Zagreb. Suarez has just returned from a loan at Tigre where he played 13 times so should be more than capable at this level. Zapresic's exploits in the first half of the campaign were decent. Sivonjic actually scored more times than Dodo in less games so should be a more than suitable replacement, adding to Tomislav Saric, Miroslav Saric, Mario Grgurovic's contribution which were all impressive in the first six months of the season.

Position: 11th
Player to Watch: Matija Smrekar

With consideration to the financial plight of Varteks, the club did well to position themselves near mid table with a good chance of survival. Their winter preparations have been turbalent however as coach Drazen Besek departed to become Miroslav Blazevic's assistant in Shanghai. Star player Goran Mujanovic also went free after his contract expired and is on trial with Legia Warsaw. The club are also awaiting to discover if they will get any income from Igor Prahic's switch to Sedan which was unsanctioned by Varteks. One positive move however was Miljenko Mumlek's decision to stay for the remainder of the season. Josip Kvesic and Mario Sacer also have improved the standard of the squad, whilst Matija Smrekar seems back to his best and his sale at the end of the season could prove the teams long term saviour. Varteks will however demand more from the experienced Ivan Jolic and strike partner Gordan Vuk. If Andrej Vuk and Hojski keep up their form however the team should stay up.

Position: 12th
Player to Watch: Ivan Curjuric

One of the relegation threatened sides in biggest danger from the rejuvenated NK Zagreb is Zadar who lost several key players this winter. Matej Jonjic, Goran Jozinovic and Marin Ljubicic have all gone to Hajduk Split. Ivan Curjuric is under experiencing pressure to hold together the midfield in Ljubicic's absence. Strikers Ivan Santini and Zelimir Terkes also need to score more goals as have just two apeice. It is likely Zadar will be in the mix for relegation at the end of the season.

Position: 13th
Player to Watch: Eliomar

Medimurje had been progressing admirably in the first half of the campaign under Mario Cutuk, but are now under severe threat from revitalised NK Zagreb who appear disinterested in a forey down in the Croatian second division. Medimurje appear however to have to tools to mount some form of a fight back. Serbian striker Bojan Golubovic has been providing the goals, supported by impressive Brazilian attacker Eliomar and the experienced Marijan Vuka and Ivica Zuljevic. Ex Varteks stopper Daniel Madaric has been brought in to help the defence, alongside ex Croatian Under 21 player Adrian Valentic. Zoran Lesjak, Marko Grgic and Goran Juros also arrive. Medimurje could just survive, but it will be tight.

Position: 15th
Player to Watch: Davor Vugrinec

NK Zagreb will be hoping to make headway up the league after finding their form under Igor Stimac. Pivotal to their success has been Davor Vugrinec who fired 11 goals which is a better tally than that of current Croatia international Mario Mandzukic. Vugrinec needs to keep his form, as well as targetman Ivan Kristanovic. Stimac was not slow however in providing them with additional help as Goran Ljubojevic was recruited from Racing Genk. Ljubojevic has a impressive CV having performed well with Osijek in a team that featured Daniel Pranjic, Marijan Buljat and Tomislav Mikulic, before moving onto Dinamo. Ljubojevic was also impressive as a Croatia under 21 international most remembered for a excellant double in a 3-0 win over England. At Genk Ljubojevic was a fans favorite helping put pay to Anderlecht and Club Brugge, before suffering injury which has curtailed his career. In addition to Ljubojevic arrives the promising Stjepan Babic from Amkar Perm and highly experienced former Croatian international Mario Tokic, who has played regularly in European competition and successfully in Austria. Going by the signings of Jethron and Marin Skender, Stimac may have also provided Zagreb with just what they needed. With such talent at their disposal its hard to see Zagreb going down. A successful season would be midtable, but Stimac is no doubt it will hard to achieve such heights.

ISTRA 1961
Position: 15th
Player to Watch: Asim Sehic

Although wealthy Russian owner finally took over Istra, it is going to be hard for the club to retain top flight status. Although Ante Tomic, Ivo Smoje, Marijan Buljat, Dario Zahora, Kristjan Caval and Dragan Blatnjak was linked none of those players arrived leaving Istra with much of what they had as well as four more recruits. Gjerj Bushaj and Bosko Stupic arrives with good reputations from Vllazina and Vardar Skopje, but are unproven at present in HNL1. A big plus is Marijan Markovic's stay despite interest from Tomsk and Khallilou Traore and Asim Sehic are still on board. The club's one high profile signing was Cameroon international Matias Chago who is out of favour at Dinamo Zagreb. Although some of Istra's targets appeared unrealistic Ivo Smoje was close to coming and his absence may be felt by the club as the season progresses. Istra will need their key players to shine to retain their top flight status. Macedonia Alimi was said to have been the biggest plus point during the winter break and will hope he continues his form from next week.

Position: 16th
Player to Watch: Marko Guja

With just seven points to their name and Tomo Labudovic, Vedran Celiscak, Artim Polozoni and Stjepan Jukic following a whole host of players out the exit down its hard to see Sesvete even meaning from bottom spot. Despite the clubs financial status, they have in fact invested in players of some reputation. Pero Pejic arrives from Kapfenberg, Ante Serdarusic was with Grunther Feurth, whilst keeper Ivan Banovic - famous for being booked for removing a cat from the pitch - was first choice at Medimurje. On the plus side for Sesvete's players if any of them were to impress they could attract offers from other HNL1 sides in the summer. 62 year old Austrian Adolf Pinter is the new man the helm and will have nothing to lose when the season resumes.

Sunday, 7 February 2010


The Croatian Football Federation have often been prepared to do battle with a rival country to acquire the service of Croatian players with dual nationality or mixed parentage. Ivan Klasnic, Niko Kovac and Robert Kovac were all wanted by Germany. Eduardo could have played with Brazil. Josip Simunic and Ante Seric were eligible for Australia. A whole host of players could have suited up for Bosnia Herzegovina. Lately HNS were also interested in Argentine Croat Dario Cvitanich of Pachuca and talented young midfielder Gregory Sertic of Bordeaux in France where he was born.

The latest player to come to Croatia's attention is Mario Gavranovic, who currently represents Switzerland at Under 21 level. Switzerland and Croatia already have history in disputes over current Croatia stars Ivan Rakitic and Mladen Petric. Gavranovic would be unable to play for Croatia Under 21's due to his appearences for Switzerland, so HNS would like the 20 year old to wait his turn for the full national team. Switzerland however appear to have Gavranovic in their shorter term plans after the forward scored 16 goals in 41 games for Lugano and Yverdon and another 8 in the top flight with Neuchatel Xamax. His excellant form at such a young age earned his switch last week to Schalke.

Croatia are certainly looking at Gavranovic's progress in the German Bundesliga as he awaits his debut. Croatia appear to have a good chance of couping Gavranovic as the players parents are of Croatian stock, having only moved to Switzerland a year prior to the birth of young Mario in Switzerland.

Wednesday, 3 February 2010


Although the transfer window closed on Monday in many countries across Europe, HNL1 sides cannot rest yet as clubs in the Russian league can still acquire players up until March. FK Moscow are preparing a bid for Osijek Josip Knezevic, whilst Hajduk's want away striker Ivan Rodic could still move to Spartak Nalchik.

Istra 1961 midfielder Khallilou Traore is also keen on a switch to the Russian Premier League. Dinamo Zagreb meanwhile seem unlikely to part with another player, having heavily trimmed the squad. Although it was thought Dinamo would allow Ivica Vrdoljak to transfer abroad, the sale of Carlos, Matias Chago and Dejan Lovren has left Dinamo short in midfield and defensive areas meaning Vrdoljak is now essential to Krunoslav Jurcic's plan. It is uncertain of Hajduk's attitude to any bids for Senijad Ibricic from the East. However Hajduk would be more keen on offloading Ivo Smoje, Marijan Buljat, Dario Jertec, Ante Seric and Hjorve Vejic who train away from Hajduk's first team squad on full pay.

Sibenik's Ermin Zec and Mehmed Alispahic could still prove attractive additions for Russian clubs. Although Osijek could part with Knezevic it is unlikely they would welcome any further bids for star players Domogoj Vida, Ivan Milicevic or Vedran Jugovic. Varteks may having be more willing to listen to interest in their star striker Matija Smrekar due to the clubs financial problems.

Meanwhile Dinamo Moscow could still rescue Jerko Leko from his nightmare at Monaco. It is not thought Leko would run down his contract with the French club which expires in the summer and would still welcome a transfer to the East.

Monday, 1 February 2010


With transfer deadline having passed clubs can now only turn to free agents if they hope to improve their squad between now and the end of the season. HRV SOCCER looks at which players could be picked up for free following their release from their former employer.

It is not known what the plans are of Dario Smoje having played just once this season for Pananios, following on from two seasons of inactivity in the Belgian league with AA Gent. Smoje plays at centre back and enjoyed a strong season in 2003/04 with Dinamo Zagreb before venturing to Belgium. Smoje is lacking regular football, but would provide good experience and know how for a domestic club.

One of the 12 still left without a club following Excelsior Mouscron's financial collapse is former Hajduk Split striker Zvonimir Deranja. Now 30 and with only a handful of matches behind him in the last two seasons, Deranja may now lower his expectations. Deranja has a decent scoring record in HNL1 with 52 goals scored whilst with Hajduk and a respectable 19 in 44 games whilst with French second division side Libourne.

Although still contracted to the Turkish club Eskirespor, midfielder Stjepan Poljak has been attempting to get free papers from the sport of arbitration. The former Inter Zapresic and Slaven Belupo would appear happier with a return to the Croatian league, but it would appear his best avenue of seperating from his club is a transfer across to the Far East where his transfer fee can be matched. Poljak is therefore being trailed by Shanghai Shenua, but could still arrive back in his homeland if his free papers arrive with HNK Rijeka highly interested in his signature.

28 year old striker Mario Mijatovic is hunting for a new club after leaving Lustenau following the dismissal of countryman Nenad Bjelica as coach. Mijatovic, however has restored his reputation in recent years in Austria. Mijatovic, spent his early career struggling to make an impression with Osijek, Kamen Ingrad and Slaven Belupo, before pitching up at Regional side Kottingbrunn. 13 goals in just 14 matches encourage LASK Linz to move for the striker for whom he scored 12 times in 2006/ 07 season to fire them into the top flight. In Bundesliga Mijatovic also didn't look out of place scoring 8 in 30 the following season. Last season was more of a struggle netting just 3, before joining Bjelica at Lusteneau where he scored 4 times. Mijatovic should be appeal to acclimitize to life back in Croatia should he return.


Transfer deadline passed relatively quietly for Croatian players and clubs. The bigger deal came in form of Swiss born Croat Mario Gavranovic who joins German Bundesliga club Schalke from Neuchatel Xamax. The 20 year old has scored 8 goals this season and is a Swiss Under 21 international.

In the Belgian Juperliga playmaker Ivan Leko has joined struggling Lokoren on loan from Germinal Beerscot. 31 year old Leko will teammates with countryman Mario Carevic and Tomislav Sokota. Brescia however failed in their bed to lure Sasa Bjelanovic from Vicenza. Bjelanovic has scored 4 times this season.

In HNL1 Rijeka agreed to sign midfielder Stjepan Poljak should he gain his free papers from Turkish club Eskierespor. The 26 year old should prove an asset to Rijeka who allowed Nastja Ceh and Mirslav Karoglan to leave the club this week. One player going to the Turkish league is former Croatian international Stjepan Tomas. The 33 year old has signed on a six month deal with Gaziantespor. Tomas arrives on a free transfer after winning two back to back Russian league titles with Rubin Kazan.

Former HNL1 stars Mate Brajkovic and Sergej Jakirovic have returned to Croatia after being released by clubs abroad. Brajkovic had been playing with Albanian side Flamuntari, who he joined after successful spells with Rijeka, Zadar and Kamen Ingrad. The 29 year old has dropped down the Croatia's third tier with Velecenica. Former Bosnian international Jakirovic however has signed with NK Lucko. Jakirovic, now 33 enjoyed spells with CSKA Sofia, NK Zagreb and Rijeka.

Osijek forward Karlo Primorac has terminated his contract with the club and signed with Dinamo Zagreb. The 25 year old had been on trial with Eintract Frankfurt in the winter, but having scored just 11 times in the last two seasons were unconvinced by his goalscoring prowess. Dinamo on the other hand may have an ideal replacement to fill in for Nino Bule at Lokomotiva next season. Primorac could also prove a useful squad player for Dinamo in the remainder of the current HNL1 campaign. Goran Mujanovic, meanwhile has ruled out a switch to Shanghai Shenua after failing to agree terms after talks in China. The news will alert Slaven Belupo who see Mujanovic as a fitting replacement for Bojan Vrucina. Mujanovic is also wanted by Rijeka who were thrawted in their bid to acquire Stjepan Poljak due to the players registration problems.