Croatias Road To FIFA 2010

Arnold aims to foil Croatian poachers

Posted on: April 4, 2007

AUSTRALIAN coach Graham Arnold has moved into overdrive to stave off the threat of Croatia poaching their latest Australian target – talented teenage defender Matthew Spiranovic.

The 18-year-old from Geelong has already been capped by Australia at both under-17 and under-20 levels, but under the new international eligibility rules has not yet been tied to Australia.

Spiranovic is in his first season in the German Bundesliga and has recently broken into the first-team squad at FC Nurnberg. Over the past few months he has ignored overtures to join Australia’s under-23 Olyroos squad while he ponders his future.

Croatia has targeted Australian-born players of Croatian descent for the past decade, and Croatia went into last year’s World Cup with three “converts” – goalkeeper Joey Didulica and defenders Ante Seric and Josip Simunic.

Significantly, Simunic has been prominent in the push to convince Spiranovic to cross sides. At the final whistle of the weekend’s match between his club, Hertha Berlin, and FC Nurnberg, Simunic had a long conversation with Spiranovic on the pitch before they headed for separate dressing rooms. It is believed Croatian officials have pencilled in the friendly international against Bosnia-Herzegovina in Sarajevo in August as the opportunity to hand Spiranovic his debut, thus tying him to Croatia.

Arnold admits to a growing concern about recent developments, and plans to talk to Spiranovic before the end of the week to emphasise that he has a big future with the Socceroos. A call-up for Australia’s pre-Asian Cup friendlies against Uruguay and Argentina in early June is on the cards.

“There’s no doubt we’re in danger of losing him,” Arnold said. “His parents have been getting all sorts of phone calls in the middle of the night from Croatia. Here’s a kid who has played for us at youth level, he’s been through the AIS, he’s played all his junior football as an Australian, and now he’s under real pressure to change sides.

“We can’t afford another episode like we had with Simunic and Seric. Matthew’s a central defender, a position where we’re light on, and he’s got a big role to play in the 2010 World Cup. I’m worried, definitely, and I’ll be doing a lot of talking to him and his family over the next few days.”

Michael Cockerill | April 3, 2007

Special Thanks to Joe Marinovic For Pointing Out the Story


27 Responses to "Arnold aims to foil Croatian poachers"

so the friendly is in April!!! Sweeet!!

This story is a bit worrying actually.It’s one thing becoming a naturalized citizen like Eduardo but taking juniors after they came right through another system in another country is a bit dodgy.
I totally understand the love for Croatia, especially from australia, but we’re getting a bad reputation now for poaching.Australia, Germany and Switzerland are all pissed at us now.Probably Brazil will be too cause Eduardo looks better than most Brazilian strikers at the moment.I can’t believe we can’t find good defenders in Croatia.The team of ’98 had the best defence in the world.Stimac, Jarni and Bilic were great, why hasn’t that continued on?? Only Corluka and Simic are Croatian born from the last decade.Maybe Tudor but he’s all over the place.What about Knezevic?? What’s happening with him, is he making it at Livorno?? I’d rather not steal another Aussie, especially if he’s no better than Simunic who has disastrous moments a bit too often.

Okay, I personally don’t have issues about us asking Hrvati to play for there domovino. They will always be Hrvati , no matter what. I may live in Canada but i will be a Hrvat , till the day i die. Jero you hit the issue right on the head, what is wrong with the croatian soccer system/leagues, because they are not producing quality younger players. Is it jeaulousy, pettyiness, money, not good enough youth coaches, poor football philosophies….. all the above. What is it????. What is wrong with the development of youth at the lower levesl? Are we not pushing them enough or are we putting them into soccer accademy’s too early and denying them the ability to create and have fun on the pitch. I don’t see a lot of Croats in the big leagues outside of Germany. None in Portugal or Spain, Kranjcar in England, Leko is the only croat in the first division in France. Even in Italy it looks like Robert Kovac, Dario Simic and Igor Tudor are finished leaving only Knezevic and Budan in Serie A. In Holland the same thing, Pranjic is being shipped to Greece leaving the goalie Didiluca. Something is wrong with HNS and changes are needed in that league. Going from 12 teams to 10 teams 2008/2009 is not going to produce better talent. As mentioned previously(the philosophy statement) the game is moving toward “Total Football”, ten men on the pitch interchangeable in each position(not withstanding the goalie). This is the evolution of the game and kids at the youth level need to be exposed to each position on the field and had better learn to dribble and control the ball with confidence, creativity and eventually when put into a formation and create space for one another. They had better khow to strike with a force of ten and then retreat in equal numbers. The day of the player who is there only for his defense is a thing of the past. Kids are most creative between the ages of 7 or 8 to 12/13, thats when they are not pressured into playing but playing for fun. After the age of thirteen to start to organize them into systems/formations. I wonder how it is in Hrvatska.

Tome( sorry for the long comment)

Coming from a country that snatches Filipino players, they can shut the fuck up.
f this mali’s Tata says da ce igrati za nase vatreni. That what he better do or else he gets the batina

It is believed Croatian officials have pencilled in the friendly international against Bosnia-Herzegovina in Sarajevo in August as the opportunity to hand Spiranovic his debut, thus tying him to Croatia.

Is this true Denis? Wil he play for us in August already? give me the link please where you found that..

I dont belive he will, but thats what the Australian Media thinks…
Rukavina didnt even get his chance yet, what makes you think Mathew will.

here is the Link LukaCroatia

Don’t get me wrong, I have absolutely no sympathy for Australia and if I was a top footballer I would look at playing for Croatia too.But Australia is a bit better than New Zealand and they can probably make the World Cup from now on and they already have players in all the top leagues so I’m wondering why they would even play for Croatia if they’re born in a country where they would definately play for the national team if they’re as good as this guy is supposed to be.Why would he choose us over them?? I can understand the German Croatians, very patriotic but also there are already alot of good German players so they probably would struggle to get into their side.Niko Kovac certainly wouldn’t be in the German side but he’s been great for us.Klasnic wouldn’t.Robert Kovac might have.However, I will obviously support him 100% if he chooses Croatia but I don’t see why he would or even should. They have Viduka, Skoko, Popovic and others so maybe he might also go that way.Seem to be half one way and half our way.
Interesting.I’ll take Rakitic though, he sounds good.
What worries me tomemilin is not the players coming through from midfield to strikers but at the back. We have barely developed a player at the back in the last 6-8 years. Corluka, that’s about it.Simic, Kovac, Tudor,
Seric, Simunic have all been there since after the ’98 WC.Until Corluka came there was not one new defender introduced during Baric or Kranjcars reigns.
Not one I can think of.So we’re left with guys who will all retire around the same time and very few replacements.I blame the last 2 managers.That’s our weakness now where we were once fantastic.

I was born in Australia but both my parents were born in Croatia. When you are in a situation like this it comes down to whether you feel you are more croat or more australian. I am proud of my upbringing here but i wouldnt be able to resist the croatian national team if i was a topp footballer. It comes down to how you feel .

@ Denis

Nema nista od toga!

He will play for Australia:'(

well fuck him if he doesn’t love Croatia, he have never. never, never come to Croatia again!!!

Toughest decision ever for the guy.He’ll never be welcome back in Australia.
I doubt Simunic would be too popular if he went back.Yeah I think I would play for Croat too but I know a couple of guys who played for NZ , probably cause they’d never make the Croatian team.But they were happy playing for NZ.I guess he’ll have to decide where his long term future lies, he’ll have to be prepared that his home country won’t be the same if he chooses Croatia.For every Croat that loves him there’ll be 20 Aussies who’ll hate him for going.Tough choice.I don’t know how Petric can play for a club in the country he grew up in and chose not to play for, that’s crazy.

Jero..i just said that he won’t play for Croatia;)

link: Spiranovic picks Australia – SBS

Photo AAP

Teenage central defender Matthew Spiranovic has pledged his future to the Australian national team, rejecting an approach to play for the country of his parents, Croatia.

SBS understands that Socceroos coach Graham Arnold was informed of Spiranovic’s decision by phone and now appears certain to offer the former U-17 and current U-20 international his first senior cap in June – when Australia hosts Uruguay in Sydney and Argentina in Melbourne.

On Tuesday, Arnold was contemplating losing another player to Croatia – which has poached goalkeeper Joey Didulica, defender Josip Simunic and midfielder Anthony Seric – in the past 10 years.

“There’s no doubt we’re in danger of losing him,” Arnold told The Age.

“His parents have been getting all sorts of phone calls in the middle of the night from Croatia. Here’s a kid who has played for us at youth level, he’s been through the AIS, he’s played all his junior football as an Australian, and now he’s under real pressure to change sides.”

“Matthew’s a central defender, a position where we’re light on, and he’s got a big role to play in the 2010 World Cup.”

But Arnold will be very pleased with the positive outcome this time around.

Spiranovic, 18, is a graduate of the Australian Institute of Sport and is now playing his trade in the German Bundesliga with FC Nurnberg.

He recently broke in to the first team where he lines up in defence alongside Socceroo Michael Beauchamp.

EXCLUSIVE: Click here to watch the latest TWG Shoot-out instalment with Andrew Orsatti and Craig Foster in which they discuss the dual citizenship issue.

Last modified: 4 April 2007 19:18:12

This is what I think. You should not be thinking about playing for Croatia , you already know if you will.

Im tired of soccer players waiting to decide. There is nothing to decide!
You eather want to play for Croatia or not.

If you are a true Croatia you will not even think about it. If United the States asked me to play for their National team right now! My response would be Fuck no! I’m Croatian…Not because USA has a bad team. But because I’m a Croatian, and I love my country. Lets say that was my only way into pro soccer, to join the US national team. I would still refuse to play for them. Its all about pride.

I know I lived in Other country’s more then I did in Croatia. But my home is still Croatia.

Ivan Rakitic in my opinion is an Asshole. I dislike that kid. The reason why is because he is actualy still thinking about who to play for. Croatia or for the Swiss. If he was a true Croatian he would of picked Croatia long time ago before he even started playing pro soccer.
The Kovac brother didnt have a tough time deciding…No one begged them to play for us. They simply accepted Croatia’s call because they had the Croatian pride.

Niko Kranjcar didn’t have a tough time aether…

Simunic no one begged him. He knew he wanted to play for Croatia..

Question, Why didn’t Viduka play for Hrvatska? He played at Dinamo for a number of years.

I guess he loved Australia…

Great, I’m really glad he chose Australia.I personally don’t want him in the side.They can have our current ones back too actually, Simunic is a disaster and Seric never plays anyway.Why did they build up the story for no reason?? Don’t the Aussie coaches actually talk to players BEFORE they run their big mouths off and create problems for no reason.

im also glad he chose to play for the aussies..i think he wanted to play for croatia but he knew he would not get a chance right away wuth croatia but with australia he could start very soon..besides we have good young centerbacks in knezevic who is still recovering from his fractured skull sablic and schildenfield..

Simunic a disaster? Are you on drugs my friend? :S

Simunic is one of Croatia’s best defenders in my opinion.

You really think he’s one of the best defenders.No, I’m not on drugs at the moment.Do you not remember his game against Australia?? Should have given away 2 penalties but only gave one, not that it mattered in the end.The Israel own goal. For such an experienced player to pass back into his own net.The time he was outjumped easily by Vieri at the 2002 WC.Those spring to mind, yet alone other mistakes.Yes he’s fine for 80% of the game but it’s that 20% that terrifies me.I switched the Australia game off after his second handball and then the sending off, he took years off my life that day.I think he has to be in the team but only because we have nothing better not because he’s so good.I pray for the day we get another player of Bilic and Stimac’s quality in the central defensive positions.Just my opinion, I personally have nothing against him apart from his one or 2 howlers every now and then.But he makes me nervous.Our defense is our weak link don’t you think? We’re conceding goals lately , especially since Robert Kovac has been out.

the guy who got the handballs against Australia was Stjepan Tomas , not Josip Simunic.

Jero. I will put that article up on

Simunic is our best defender atm. Viduka was going 2 play for cro but at the last minute changed his mind….dont know y…….

Yes, thank God Stjepan Tomas is gone.What were the three yellow cards for that got Simunic sent off against Aussie?? I forget and I’ll never watch that game again.Yes, he might be the best atm but only because Kovac is out and we have absolutely no one else to compete for spots.Vejic and Zivkovic, please.We will concede more goals in this campaign I think, more than any previous campaign since ’96 the way the last few games have looked.Thankfully we also have the best midfield and strikers since ’98 to compensate and score maore than in those campaigns.Can anyone tell me who else we have that can fill in for Kovac?? Only Tudor if he comes back and he;s not been great either.Sablic looked ok at times but not sure what happened to him.I hope we have some talent in the U21 team.Hopefully get to see Babic today, maybe at left back though by the sounds of it if he starts.That works out good for Croatia with the game time he’s getting there for leverkusen.

I must say, and this might sound bias being that I’m in New Zealand but Ryan Nelsen is absolutely my favourite defender.He’s amazing, the reason Blackburn are doing so well.They were almost last when he came back from injury and he’s captained them back to top ten.Tireless, consistent, smart.He has it all.The first time I’ve actually enjoyed watching games from a totally defensive persective, he’s really made me see how important his position is to the team.Wish he was Croatian cause it’s pointless him playing for New Zealand.

Mozda je bolje da Spiranovic neci igrati za hrvatsku. On neprica ni jednu rec od Hrvatski i ipak ima puno prijateli na Australijacu reprezentaciju . Bolje za nego buducnost u nogomet. (back to english, have to practice my croatian writing its very poor)Because who knows when he would get to start and play for the Croatian national team. I suspect it wouldn’t really be before after the 2010 world cup.

lol you’re Croatian sucks indeed ūüėČ

But i agree let him play for Australia if he wants
i read on Vecernji btw that his dad wanted Spira to play for Croatia

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