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Croatian coach Petar Šegrt's remarkable rise with Tajikistan in Asian football

29. January 2024
In a remarkable story of footballing success, Croatian coach Petar Šegrt has become a national hero in Tajikistan, leading the country's national team to unprecedented heights.

Tajikistan, a nation that has historically remained obscure in the football world, has experienced a football renaissance under Šegrt's guidance, culminating in a sensational run to the quarterfinals of the Asian Cup.   

For the first time in its history, Tajikistan qualified for the Asian Cup, a tournament that has expanded to include 24 of Asia's best teams since 2019. This achievement is particularly significant for Tajikistan, a country of 11 million people and considered the poorest in Central Asia.   

Šegrt, a 57-year-old Croatian, has journeyed through a unique path in his football career. Born in Đurđevac, Croatia, he moved to Germany with his family at a young age. His coaching career began in the lower leagues of German football and gradually progressed through various roles, including stints in Austria and as an assistant coach in Germany.   

His breakthrough came in Georgia, where he served as the technical director of the Georgian Football Federation and the interim head coach of the national team. Šegrt's coaching journey took him to diverse destinations, including Indonesia, Bosnia and Herzegovina (with Zvijezda Gradačac), Afghanistan, and the Maldives, before taking the helm of the Tajikistan national team in January 2022.   

Šegrt's philosophy is rooted in creating harmony among his players, a principle he believes is key to a team's success. His approach has resonated well with the Tajikistan team, comprised mainly of domestic league players with a few exceptions playing in the stronger Uzbekistan league. The most notable player under his charge is Parvizdhzhon Umarbayev, who plays for CSKA Sofia in Bulgaria.   

The Croatian coach's impact was evident as Tajikistan, considered the underdogs, triumphed over the United Arab Emirates in the round of 16 of the Asian Cup. Šegrt's ability to shoulder the pressure and prepare his team for the big stage has been instrumental in their success.   

𝐓𝐀𝐉𝐈𝐊𝐈𝐒𝐓𝐀𝐍 𝐌𝐄𝐋𝐀𝐉𝐔! 🆙🇹🇯

Selamat untuk anak asuh eks pelatih kepala PSM, Petar Šegrt! 👏

Adakah dari kalian yang memprediksi pencapaian tim Pamirians sampai di fase ini? ✍️pic.twitter.com/8c5g94kcJf

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