Damir Krznar (foto: pigac.si)
Two days before the crucial league match against Koper, Maribor's coach once again faced the media to answer the most pressing questions.
On Sunday, the most eagerly anticipated match of the ninth round of the Prva Liga Telemach is scheduled. Maribor and Koper, two fierce rivals of recent seasons, will face off in Ljudski vrt. The match will be without the presence of star Josip Iličić, who was removed from the first team's training process during the week.
"Josip Iličić is currently not physically in a condition to help the team. My decision is for him to prepare individually now, as he hasn't reached the level we expect from him through training with the first team. That's the main reason he's not with us. There are some other factors, but they are not decisive," initially told the media Maribor's coach, Damir Krznar.
"This is a decision I made and communicated to him in front of the entire team. He accepted the decision, and there were no further peculiarities after that. He started training according to an individual program with our coaches, and there are no issues."
"My intention wasn't to send a message to other players, but I simply want Josip to reach a level where he can help us on the field. This is beneficial for us and for him. I believe the others will understand this as motivation to give our best, as that's the only way to get out of the current situation," Krznar added.
Maribor fans are pleased with the return of Hilal Soudani and Marko Kolar to the squad, while besides Iličić, the usual captain Martin Milec is expected to continue to be absent.
Maribor enters the match at the Maribor stadium from the fourth position in the table, while Koper, in third, has two points more than their current opponent. Celje leads the table, with Olimpija in second place.