The Croatian Football Federation (HNS) has sacked Igor Stimac, who had offered to resign following the 2-0 defeat to Scotland in their final group game in 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil™ qualifying, and named Niko Kovac as interim coach.
"Stimac approached me immediately after the match in Glasgow and offered his resignation and said that we should make a decision, which we eventually did," HNS head Davor Suker told reporters after the body's extraordinary session.
"We decided to terminate the contract with current coach Stimac and named Niko Kovac as a temporary one for the next two matches in the World Cup play-offs. Our wish is that he remains coach after these two matches regardless of whether we qualify for Brasil or not."
Stimac, a member of the Croatia side that reached the France 1998 semi-finals, had been his country's coach since July 2012. Suker said that the decision to sack his former team-mate was very hard for him personally.
He explained: "We nevertheless had to something due to poor results and the ruining of the Croatian team's reputation."
The 46-year-old Stimac said after Tuesday's match that by offering his resignation he wanted to "show a moral responsibility and if there is anyone who doesn't believe in my work in Croatia, I want to give them the chance to change something now."
Croatia's hopes of qualifying directly for the World Cup ended last Friday with a 2-1 defeat at home to Belgium. Although they were assured of second place in the group and a play-off spot, the abject defeat in Scotland does not bode well for November's two-legged affair. The draw for the play-offs takes place on Monday.
Germany-born Kovac retired as a player in 2009, having won 83 caps and scoring 15 goals between 1996 and 2008. He captained Croatia from 2004 onwards, participating in UEFA EURO 2004 and EURO 2008, as well as Germany 2006.
Having taken up coaching roles at Red Bull Salzburg following his retirement as a player, the 41-year-old Kovac was named Croatia's U-21 coach in January.