Antic Leaves Players Sweating On Final Place

22 05 2010

Serbia Coach Radomir Antic reduced his provisional World Cup squad from 30 to 24 players on Friday. With the World Cup fewer than three weeks away Chelsea pair Slobodan Rajkovic and Nemanja Matic were two of six players to be omitted.

Ajax attacker Miralem Sulejmani was perhaps a surprise player who was dropped, but after a poor season for his club was absent along with fellow Eredivise player Jagos Vukovic of PSV. The remaining two players were Nemanja Tomic (Partizan Belgrade) and Dejan Lekic (Red Star Belgrade) surprisingly leaving the Serbians with four keepers in the squad, however uncapped Andjelko Djuricic of Portuguese side U.D. Leira is expected to be the last player to be withdrawn from Antic’s squad, who has a deadline of June 1st to submit the final squad.

Nikola Zigic

The 6ft 7” giant of a striker Nikola Zigic has been given reassuring praise from his Coach, who has backed him to be one of the stars in South Africa. After scoring three goals in qualification and a goal in Germany 2006, the Valencia striker would come across as a natural danger man with his formidable presence. He said: “The Coach’s words are not a burden. It’s good that Antic praised me and I will try to justify his confidence. I always give my best for Serbia and it will always be that way.” Being the most prolific scorer in the team with 16 goals to his name in 42 matches, Serbia will be looking towards their giant striker to capitalise on the service he should receive from the attacking wingers such as Milos Krasic.

Manchester United winger Zoran Tosic was called up to provide competition for the left midfield spot, and the 23-year-old, who spent a successful second half of the season playing in Germany for FC Köln, could be a super sup for Antic’s team. Tosic was part of the promising Serbian team which reached the U21 European Championship final in 2007, but even though his development has stalled while in Manchester, his national Coach has backed him to help with his side’s winning mentality. “Tosic could be one of the revelations of the tournament after showing his full potential in the German first division, having made a difficult decision to move to a smaller club from a big one,”Antic told Reuters. “He has shown courage, commitment and desire, which has enabled him to make tremendous progress and his individual skill will be a valuable asset in our bid to do well in the finals. We will start every game confident in ourselves although we are in a very demanding group, therefore I opted for players who will comprise a balanced and focused squad breathing as one.”

Although Tosic is generally a substitute, he will provide the team with technical ability and will be challenging future Liverpool winger Milan Jovanovic for a sport in the starting line-up and might also use this tournament as an opportunity to broadcast his ability to scouts, with playing time looking limited at Manchester United.

Serbia will travel to Austria next week for a training camp in Leogang, before three friendlies against New Zealand, Poland and Cameroon, showing the side are taking the preparation for the tournament very seriously. Last time out in 2006, in their former guise of Serbia and Montenegro had an awful tournament, but Antic predicts that this time around his squad are better equipped to justify the belief that this squad could very well be the surprise team this summer. “It is not my habit to draw parallels and make comparisons but what I can promise is that we will play our hearts out to represent Serbia in the right way and not let ourselves down,” he said. “Our first task is to make sure the players stay fresh after a long season and our captain Dejan Stankovic, playing in Saturday’s Champions League final for Inter Milan against Bayern Munich, may get an extra day or two off.”

After hearing the news that Germany will be missing their talismanic captain Michael Ballack, Serbia might just feel that they could win Group D, and with experienced Coach Antic at their helm, they have every possibility.

Serbia’s revised provisional World Cup squad:
Goalkeepers: Vladimir Stojkovic (Wigan), Zeljko Brkic (Vojvodina Novi Sad), Bojan Isailovic (Cukaricki Belgrade), Andjelko Djuricic (Leiria).
Defenders: Branislav Ivanovic (Chelsea), Antonio Rukavina (Munich 1860), Nemanja Vidic (Manchester United), Neven Subotic (Borussia Dortmund), Aleksandar Lukovic (Udinese), Ivan Obradovic (Real Zaragoza), Aleksandar Kolarov (Lazio).
Midfielders: 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), Gojko Kacar (Hertha Berlin), Radosav Petrovic (Partizan Belgrade).
Forwards: Nikola Zigic (Valencia), Marko Pantelic (Ajax), Danko Lazovic (Zenith), Dragan Mrdja (Vojvodina).

As seen on – A Different League

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