By Alex Taylor
Slaven Bilic has sent his condolences to Maribor following the death of two of their young players in a car crash on Tuesday.
Left back Damjan Marjanovic and striker Zoran Baljak, both 20, were killed in a crash as they returned from training this week.
Defender Ziga Lipuscek and goalkeeper Ljubomir Moravac were both also injured in the incident but did not lose their lives.
“I want to start by saying that a couple of young players from Maribor yesterday had a car crash and died and the goalkeeper is injured,” Bilic said to the official West Ham website ahead of his side’s clash with Domzale on Thursday evening. “So my deepest condolences to them and I hope the goalkeeper will be okay.”
The Hammers have never played a competitive fixture against the Slovenian outfit but Maribor have featured in the Europa League, a competition the east London outfit will be playing in for the first time themselves next season.
UEFA also expressed their condolences to Maribor after the news broke.
Reuters quoted European football’s governing body as saying: “UEFA would like to send its condolences to NK Maribor and the Football Association of Slovenia following the untimely death of two Maribor players on Tuesday,”
It is understood that there will be a minute’s silence before Maribor’s Europa League third qualifying round second leg match at home against Aberdeen on Thursday.
In other West Ham team news, Bilic has confirmed one of the team’s key players faces up to five weeks on the sidelines.