Mississauga News: Toronto Croatia Coach Relieved of Duties


Toronto Croatia soccer coach relieved of his duties

Sep 18, 2002

Zarko Brala was relieved of his coaching duties with the Toronto Croatia following the team's recent disappointing play.

Mario Skara, the president of the Canadian Professional Soccer League (CPSL) club, said he asked Brala to take a two-week leave in the face of mounting animosity and pressure from the local Croatian community.

Team officials and fans were upset with Brala's coaching decisions during a tournament of North American-based Croatian soccer clubs on Labour Day Weekend. The local side lost the championship game.

The head coach inserted his son, back-up goalkeeper Anthony Brala, into the starting line-up for the championship final, in place of regular George Azcurra. That controversial decision prompted Skara to ask the coach to step down.

"It was because of pressure from my community," said Skara. "The club is run by the community and you have to responsible for what you do. Azcurra got us in to the final. He is considered one of the best in the league."

Brala said his decision to put his son in net was based on feedback from Azcurra, who said he was feeling the effects of the tiring tournament schedule.

Skara was behind the bench for Croatia's 2-1 loss on Sept. 4 in St. Catharines. Toronto's goal was scored by midfielder Velimir Crljen.

Drago Santic has been brought in to take over as coach in the interim.

Life isn't good for the Croatia's cross-town rivals, either, as the Mississauga Olympians lost a pair of home games.

They fell 2-1 to the North York Astros on Sept. 6 before losing to the Metro Lions 2-0 on Sept. 8. Scoring for the Olympians against North York was midfielder Ryan Lucas.

Head coach David Gee attributed the first loss to poor finishing on scoring attempts. As for the next game, he was missing four players due to injury, two due to personal commitments and another four who just couldn't make the game.

"The whole weekend was a disaster," said Gee.

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