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Football: Albion to face great names of old on summer tour.

Byline: By Lisa Smith

West Bromwich Albion have announced a mouthwatering pre-season tour to Croatia and Slovenia as manager Tony Mowbray prepares to cast his eye over his squad in preparation for next season's promotion push.

Albion will fly out to Central Europe for seven days on July 11 for a three game mini-tour which sees them take on Hadjuk Split on Friday July 13, FC Drava on Sunday July 15 and Red Star Belgrade in Slovenia on Wednesday July 18.

The matches will be slotted in between Albion's pre-season friendly fixtures against Histon on July 10. Hereford, Bristol Rovers and Stafford Rangers on August 1.

Hadjuk Split are considered one of the two greatest and most successful teams in Croatian football alongside Dinamo Zagreb.

The team, who are based in Split on the Dalmatian Coast, will welcome Albion to the 35,000 capacity Plojud stadium in Split which was built in 1979 to house the Mediterranean Games of that year.

"The Whites" as the team are nicknamed have had two major spells of glory in their history having been dominant in Yugloslavia in the 1920s and then again in the 1970s when the so-called "Golden Generation" side won five consecutive domestic trophies and three Championships between 1972 and 1979.

The club, presently managed by Ivan Pudar, have reached the quarter-finals of the Champions League three times - the last time in 1995 and two European Cup semi-finals.

Among their most famous players are former Juventus and Middlesborough's Alen Boksic, Everton's Slaven Bilic and Igor Stimac who was formerly with West Ham United.

Albion then play FC Drava who play in the top flight Slovenian Division One before travelling to Slovenia to take on Red Star three days later at the neutral venue of the Murksa Sobota stadium.

Red Star, who are based in the Serbian capital Belgrade, won the European Champions Cup in 1991 - the forerunner of the Champions League.

They also lost out in the European Super Cup that same year to Manchester United but secured the domestic double this year.

The club, who play in the Superliga, have won 25 national titles although its history had been decimated by the civil war in 1991 involving Serbia, Croatia and Bosnia.

An Albion spokesman said kick-off times were yet to be confirmed.

He said: "The mini-tour will be something of a homecoming for our own Slovenian international Robert Koren who has been a big hit at The Hawthorns since joining Albion on a Bosman free transfer from (Norwegian side) Lillestrom."

West Bromwich Albion are planning an executive trip for fans to Split to coincide with the first tour match and exact details are expected to be released early next week.

Season ticket news, page 30


Slovenian Robert Koren will enjoy a mini-homecoming on Albion's tour
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Title Annotation:Sport
Publication:The Birmingham Post (England)
Date:Jun 8, 2007
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