Klasnic set for return after kidney transplant
Ivan Klasnic is expected to lead Croatia’s attack in the Group B match against Poland on Monday, becoming the first player ever to take part at the European Championship after a kidney transplant.
Having beaten Euro 2008 co-host Austria 1-0 and Germany 2-1, Croatia is already assured of top spot in the group and advancing to the quarterfinals against either the Czech Republic or Turkey.
Coach Slaven Bilic said Sunday he would reshuffle his team for the match in Klagenfurt by resting several players but only announce the lineup on the day of the match.
However, practices sessions indicate that Klasnic will play up front in the second-string side in his first game at the tournament.
In January 2007, the German-born Klasnic suffered kidney failure.
Shortly afterward, he received a transplant but his body rejected the kidney donated by his mother. A couple of months later, he again underwent surgery to replace the rejected kidney with one from his father.
Nine months later, the 28-year-old Klasnic made an emotional return to football with his club Werder Bremen in the Bundesliga.
Bilic would only reveal that Dario Simic, who is also yet to take the field for Croatia in its opening two matches, will play his 99th international and be captain against Poland, which needs a big win and hope that Germany loses against Austria to keep alive its hopes of advancing.
“I hope I will play a good game against Poland, and strengthen my chances of playing in the quarterfinals,” the 32-year-old Simic said.
Five Croatia players — midfielders Luka Modric and Darijo Srna and defenders Josip Simunic and Robert Kovac and strikers Ivica Olic and Mladen Petric — have yellow cards and are unlikely to play.
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