This summer Serbia will be technically making their first official appearance at the World
In Germany last time around its fair to say the team underachieved, going in with high expectations after conceding only one goal in qualification. Pressure and back room issues resulted them to finish without a point in the ‘group of death,’ and were the recipients of that infamous Esteban Cambiasso goal.The team has a mixed balance of tactical and technical ability and should not be underestimated. Milos Krasic is somebody to watch out for on the right-wing, the CSKA Moscow player showed glimpses of his talent in this seasons UEFA Champions League against Manchester United and will be using the tournament as a shop window, with continued interested from England and Spain.
There are six familiar faces for the Premier League followers in star names Nemanja Vidic of Manchester United and Chelsea’s Branislav Ivanovic, along with Wigan’s on loan goalkeeper Vladimir Stojkovic and Wolves’ Nenad Milijas. Two virtually untried youngsters at English club level in Chelsea’s Nemanja Matic and Manchester United’s Zoran Tosic – currently on loan at Cologne and scored an impressive five goals in 12 games – have also earned a place in the squad. Left winger Milan Jovanovic, the future Liverpool player, will also be in the starting XI for the White Eagles. Serbia will bring a physical presence with them, with nine of the ten predicted outfield players being 6 feet or taller, including Valencia striker Nikola Zigic who stands at an almighty 6 foot 7. On the injury front the two missing players are Ivica Dragutinovic and Genoa’s midfielder Bosko Jankovic.
A cause for concern will be the goalkeeper. Stojkovic has played just 18 league appearances in the past three seasons, and did not install confidence into the Wigan fans after their 2-2 draw with Hull at the start of the month. Having represented eight different teams in his seven year career, the Serb’s will be hoping he will show some stability in South Africa. In Radomir Antic, Serbia have a Coach who has experience of managing at the highest level. His is one of only two men to have managed both FC Barcelona and Real Madrid, but his greatest success came at Atletico Madrid whom he won the league and cup double in only his first season. After a four-year exile from the game, he was called upon to lead his country to the World Cup after the controversial dismissal of Miroslav Dukic, who disappointed in the 2008 Olympics.
Antic’s side will feel confident that this time around they can progress through the group stages and with their group consisting of, Germany, Australia and Ghana, on paper they would be favourites to secure the second spot. They kick-off against Ghana on Sunday 13 June in Pretoria.
Provisional 30-man Serbia squad
Vladimir Stojkovic (Wigan)
Zeljko Brkic (Vojvodina Novi Sad)
Bojan Isailovic (Cukaricki Belgrade)
Andjelko Djuricic (Leiria.)
Branislav Ivanovic (Chelsea)
Antonio Rukavina (Munich 1860)
Nemanja Vidic (Manchester United)
Neven Subotic (Borussia Dortmund)
Aleksandar Lukovic (Udinese)
Ivan Obradovic (Saragossa)
Aleksandar Kolarov (Lazio.)
Dejan Stankovic (Inter Milan)
Nenad Milijas (Wolverhampton)
Miloss Krasic (CSKA Moscow)
Milan Jovanovic (Standard Liege)
Milos Ninkovic (Dynamo Kiev)
Zdravko Kuzmanovic (Stuttgart)
Zoran Tosic (Cologne)
Miralem Sulejmani (Ajax)
Gojko Kacar (Hertha Berlin)
Nemanja Matic (Chelsea)
Radosav Petrovic (Partizan Belgrade.)
Nikola Zigic (Valencia)
Marko Pantelic (Ajax)
Danko Lazovic (Zenith)
Dragan Mrdja (Vojvodina)
Dejan Lekic (Red Star Belgrade.)