Faced with a group containing Belgium and Serbia, you may think Croatia would have settled for a play-off place in their quest to reach Brazil 2014, but apparently not, as coach Igor Stimac has been sacked. Or has he?

Croatia finished second in their group, three points ahead of Serbia, to secure their play-off place alongside France, Romania, Ukraine, Sweden, Portugal, Greece, Romania and footballing minnows Iceland.

However, Croatia will go into the two-legged affair without their manager, Stimac, who departed his post after his side finished nine points behind flavour of the month Belgium.

But in a bizarre twist, there's confusion about the nature of the 46-year-old's departure.

Sky Sports are reporting that Stimac, who only took the job last year, offered his resignation, quoting him as saying: "It is a bad defeat. I offered my mandate (resignation) to the president of the Croatian football federation because of the latest results of our team, because everything that surrounds us.

"Never mind that we qualified for the play-offs, I want to show some morale, certain responsibility and if there is anyone in the federation that does not believe in my work I want to give them the chance to change."

However, President of the Croatian Football Federation, Davor Suker told BBC Sport: "We received nothing from him in written or verbal form on the flight back or afterwards, hence he was sacked.

"It was a difficult decision because Stimac is a personal friend and a former Croatia team-mate. But a string of poor results and performances made it inevitable."

The Croatia Football Federation have moved quickly to replace Stimac with former national team captain Niko Kovac being put in charge.

Suker said: "Kovac will take over as the caretaker coach for the upcoming play-off but our intention is to offer him a long-term contract whether or not we reach the World Cup finals in Brazil."


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