Posted: Monday October 1, 2012 12:46PM ; Updated: Monday October 1, 2012 12:46PM

In Croatia, male soccer team has female coach

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Tihana Nemcic
Tihana Nemcic was a finalist for Miss Croatia Sport in 2008
Darko Bandic/AP

VOJAKOVAC, Croatia (AP) -- Tihana Nemcic wants to be treated just like any other head coach.

The 24-year-old Nemcic, a former Croatia women's international and part-time model, just happens to be getting more attention than usual. That's because she has taken over as coach of a Croatian men's football team - fifth division side NK Viktorija Vojakovac.

Nemcic, a former club player in Croatia, graduated in July from the country's Sporting University. Since taking over at NK Viktorija Vojakovac, she has asserted herself as the one in charge - not the center of a media stunt.

"I am the head coach and I have full liberty to create and plan the team's tactics,'' Nemcic said. "If a woman and a man have the same professional qualifications for a coaching job, I see no reason why I should not get into male football.''

The team is currently eighth in the 16-team league standings with four points after one win, one loss and one draw.

Tihomir Jagusic, one of of the club's players, described Nemcic as "very good, focused and serious during training.''

"We listen to her,'' Jagusic said. "She is very strict at training.''

Nemcic got interested in the sport when she used to follow her boyfriend to training.

"I was watching him play, how he played ... and then I started to play myself and it has become part of me to this very day,'' she said. "This is a big challenge for me. I have had some experience with kids, but with men's teams - no.''

Nemcic is finding life as a coach very different from her days as a player.

"When you are a player, you worry only about yourself and your personal performance,'' she said. "Now, when I am a coach, I have to think about more players. But both jobs are equally nice. Both have ups and downs.''

Nemcic, who was among 15 finalists for the beauty title of Croatia Miss Sport in 2008, does face a particular challenge in coaching the men.

"We have a rule,'' she said. "Boys go in to change. When they are finished, one of them comes out and calls me in. I would never put myself in the situation to walk in on them inside the dressing room.''

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