Eastern European Roundup
Former striker Kranjcar hired to lead Croatia to World Cup
Posted: Tuesday July 13, 2004 10:20PM; Updated: Tuesday July 13, 2004 10:20PM
ZAGREB, Croatia (AP) -- Former international striker Zlatko Kranjcar was appointed as Croatia coach Tuesday, succeeding Otto Baric, who stepped down after the team's first-round exit from Euro 2004.
The national soccer federation's 14 members voted unanimously to appoint Kranjcar, who had a stellar career with Rapid Vienna as a player and won Croatian league titles as a coach with Dinamo Zagreb and FC Zagreb.
Baric bowed out of the running after officials hinted that his contract, which expires at the end of the month, would not be renewed.
Baric was the sixth coach to step down or be fired following the European championship, after Holland's Dick Advocaat, Germany's Rudi Voeller, Italy's Giovanni Trapattoni, Spain's Inaki Saez and Bulgaria's Plamen Markov.
Slovenian coach Srecko Katanec, a top favorite to take over the Croatian squad, pulled out on the eve of voting, citing strong opposition from domestic coaches and what he called a vicious media campaign, which objected to a foreign coach at the helm of the national team.
"The reaction of local coaches is disappointing," said federation president Vlatko Markovic. "Katanec does not see room for progress in such an atmosphere and does not want to struggle against obstacles that have nothing to do with sport."
Croatia began searching for a new coach after the national team failed to advance beyond the group stage in Portugal, finishing third behind France and England and ahead of Switzerland after two draws and a defeat.
The local media castigated Baric for focusing too much on defense, lacking courage to field talented young players and reshuffling lineups too often.
Kranjcar, 48, is expected to sign a two-year contract on Wednesday.
Although Kranjcar's 19-year-old son Niko is knocking on the door of the national team, Markovic said he does not see a conflict of interest as the boy is a rare talent destined to lead the squad.
However, he noted that qualification for the 2006 World Cup to be held in Germany was imperative.
Croatia plays Israel in a friendly on Aug. 18 before kicking off its World Cup qualifying campaign at home to Hungary on Sept. 4. Also in Croatia's group are Sweden, Bulgaria, Iceland and Malta.
Russia coach Yartsev keeps job
MOSCOW(Reuters) -- Russia head coach Georgy Yartsev kept his job on Tuesday after a woeful showing at Euro 2004, but suffered the indignity of having orange juice thrown at him in protest, Russian media reported.
"Greetings from the National Bolshevik Party," the juice-throwing protester shouted as he was dragged away from a news conference by security, RIA Novosti news agency reported.
The man also yelled "Russian football without Koloskov," a reference to Russian Football Union (RFU) president Vyacheslav Koloskov, who was also hit in the juice attack.
Interfax news agency said the protester threw leaflets with the slogan "Sink t6.
Russia were the first to drop out of Euro 2004 last month despite being the only side to beat Greece, the tournament's eventual winners.
"The side had a lot of new players who needed time to get used to the team," a juice-soaked Yartsev said.
He said he might welcome back players who were dropped before Euro 2004, such as Kuban Krasnodar defender Andrei Solomatin or Zenit St Petersburg midfielder Andrei Arshavin.
But he admitted there were a few he could have done without in Portugal, where midfielder Alexander Mostovoi was expelled from the Russian camp after criticising Yartsev's methods.
Yartsev named defender Roman Sharonov, who earned a red card in the first match, and his inexperienced replacement Alexei Bugayev as two he might not invite back in future.
"At Euro 2004 we had Roman Sharonov and Alexei Bugayev, who looked like reserve players from the start, but we were forced to use them because of injuries to the team's best players," the coach said.
Coach in Belarus dies after winning goal
MINSK, Belarus (AP) -- The head coach of a Belarusian soccer team died of a heart attack he suffered as his team celebrated a last-minute winning goal in a weekend match, his club said Tuesday.
Torpedo Zhodino coach Yakov Shapiro was rushed to the hospital from his team's home stadium on Saturday after feeling ill following the 90th-minute goal, which gave Torpedo a 1-0 win over Neman Grodno. He died around midday Sunday, Torpedo's press service said.
Shapiro, 42, had coached Belarusian teams since 1993 and had been head coach of Torpedo Zhodino since 2001. A public funeral ceremony will be held Wednesday in Shapiro's native Minsk.
Gazzayev returns as CSKA Moscow coach
MOSCOW(Reuters) -- Valery Gazzayev has been reappointed as chief coach of CSKA Moscow in place of Artur Jorge, officials said on Tuesday.
Portuguese coach Jorge was sacked on Monday after the team's performance fell short of expectations.
Jorge's dismissal paved the way for Gazzayev to return to the club he left last November soon after they won the Russian Premier League title.
"Gazzayev has been appointed and he is now taking over the team," CSKA spokesman Sergei Aksyonov said by telephone.
Champions CSKA are fifth in the standings with 28 points from 16 games. The board of directors were unhappy with CSKA's results this year as they felt the club were involved in too many draws.
Dynamo Moscow also parted company with their foreign coach, Czech Jaroslav Hrbik, on Tuesday.
Dynamo, who are languishing in 13th place in the 16-team table with just 16 points, appointed Viktor Bondarenko as their new coach.
"Out of five latest games Dynamo lost four and drew one," the club spokesman Alexander Lvov said.
"The team is in a difficult situation. It can even end up in leaving the premier league."
Shakhtar Donetsk buys five players
DONETSK, Ukraine (AP) -- Ukraine's ex-champion Shakhtar Donetsk has signed two Brazilian midfielders, two defenders from Romania and the Czech Republic, and a Czech goalie in the summer transfer period, the club said Tuesday.
Czech international defender Tomas Hubschman, a semifinalist at Euro 2004 in Portugal, is seen as the most promising purchase, the club said.
Hubschman's fellow countryman, goalkeeper Jan Lastuvka, won the Czech league title last season with Banik Ostrava.
Romanian defender Cosmin Barcauan led Dinamo Bucharest to victory in the Romanian league and Cup last season.
Brazilian midfielder Francelino da Silva Matuzalem has played for Italy's Brescia, Napoli, Piacenza and Brazilian Vitoria. He scored seven goals in 114 matches in Italian series A.
His fellow countryman, midfielder Joao Batista Casemiro Marques, was a Turkish champion in 2002-03 playing for Galatasaray.
Joao Batista signed a three-year contract with Donetsk, while the other four players signed for five years.
Shakhtar Donetsk, Ukraine's 2001-02 champion, is second in the league standings after 23 rounds, nine points behind leader Dynamo Kiev.