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The White Eagles - Serbian Team profile

The Serbian National Team – known as the “White Eagles” – are the Socceroos 3rd and final opponents in Group D on June 23rd in Nelspruit.

Historically Serbia has played in a series of World Cups, but in a number of different guises – as Yugoslavia they shared the field with Croatia, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Slovenia, FYR Macedonia & Montenegro.

Yugoslavia, led by the mercurial Serb Dragan Stojkovic, memorably reached the quarter-finals of the 1990 World Cup, eliminating Spain on the way, but cruelly lost on penalties to eventual finalist Argentina.

They had an extremely unhappy 2006 World Cup, as Serbia & Montenegro, where they were drawn in the dreaded “Group of Death”.

They suffered a 1-0 defeat, in their opening match to the Netherlands & were then torn apart, by Argentina, 6-0.

Already eliminated, they couldn’t protect a 2-0 lead and suffered a 3-2 reverse, at the hands of Didier Drogba and the Ivory Coast.

In their first World Cup qualifying campaign as just Serbia, they qualified from an extremely difficult European group.

A series of away wins, including victories in Romania and in Vienna, and an unbeaten record at home, saw them top their group, which also included France.

They have an experienced coach in Radomir Antic who has been at the helm of both Real Madrid and Barcelona and whose place in Serbian football history will be defined by his team’s performance in South Africa.

Serbia approaches the World Cup with only one defeat in their last 10 games and an eagerness to exorcise the demons of Germany 2006; that will be their driving and compelling force in Group D.

Players to Watch:

Nemanja Vidic

Probably the best known Serbian, to Australian fans, Vidic has been a key member of Sir Alex Ferguson’s Manchester United team since he joined the Old Trafford club in 2006 from Spartak Moscow for a bargain £7m.

He has since won 3 Premier League titles and a Champions league crown with United.

He was also the official Premier League Player of the season for 2008-2009.

Vidic played no part in the 2006 World Cup finals due to suspension, a carry over red card from qualification, and then an injury he picked up during training.

That has also been the pattern of his season with United, where he has been in and out of the side due to a recurring calf injury and a series of red cards.

His poor disciplinary record of late is highlighted by Vidic having been sent off, in each of the last 3 meetings between United and Liverpool.

Vidic is a tower of strength in the air and an uncompromising defender in the tackle but is also the most likely Serbian to miss the clash with the Socceroos due to suspension.

Dejan Stanković

The Inter Milan playmaker is the captain and lynch pin of the White Eagles Side.

His 86 appearances are almost double that of the next most experienced player – Central defender Ivica Dragutinovic.

With 12 years of experience in Serie A at Lazio and now Inter Milan, he is the man most likely to cause the Socceroos problems in Nelspruit.

He is ordinarily deployed behind the front two, as an attacking mid-fielder, but can also play in front of the back four as a creative playmaker.

He also became a You Tube sensation in 2009 when he scored a wonder goal from inside his own half, to complete a 5-0 demolition of Genoa.

Branislav Ivanović

Ivanovic’s £9 transfer from Locomotiv Moscow to Chelsea in 2008 was a record at the time for a player in the Russian Premier League and it has been a good piece of business for Chelsea.

His two goals for Chelsea in the 2009 Champions league quarter final against Liverpool proved crucial in their astonishing 7-5 aggregate victory and he further enhanced his reputation with the club by being named in the 2009-2010 Premier League Team of the Season.

He missed the later stages of the season with a series of niggling injuries but will be fit to take his place in Serbia’s starting line up in South Africa.

Target for the Socceroos:

Circumstance will dictate what we need from this game and hopefully our fate is still in our own hands at this point.

Serbia’s propensity for send offs will hopefully leave them shorn of a few first choice stars, in the final pool match as this will likely be an extremely tight affair.
Wed 19/05/2010 Irish Dave 593 views

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