Croatia is guaranteed to at least make the playoff round of qualification and can still earn an automatic berth to the Euro 2016 finals in France, but head coach Niko Kovac won’t be there to see it out.
Davor Suker, head of the Croatian Football Federation, announced Kovac was relieved of his duties largely due this past weekend’s qualification results, a 2-0 loss to Norway preceded by a 0-0 draw with Azerbaijan. Since a 5-1 drubbing of Norway back in March, the country has garnered just two points over three matches, scoring just a single goal over that span.
The country is still in a solid qualification position moving forward. Croatia sits in third place in Group H with 15 points, which is a playoff position. With a seven-point cushion behind them and two matches remaining, they cannot fall any further in the table. The best third-placed team also qualifies, and Croatia is a point back of Ukraine (Group C) and even with Republic of Ireland (Group D) among other third-place teams.
The Blazers sit just two points back of Norway for an automatic qualifying position, a spot which they can attain given positive results in their remaining matches, a favorable finish with games at home against Bulgaria (4th place) and away at Malta (6th place). They will also need some help from Italy and Norway – likely the latter – in front of them, and that could come in the final round of qualification as those two teams play each other.
Suker confirmed potential successors will be interviewed in the next 10 days, but did not name any potential candidates.