Dejan: Spirit can see us through
By Chris Cummings. Last Updated: January 1, 1970 1:00am
Dejan Stankovic is confident that the character and will-power of Serbia & Montenegro will carry them through a tough World Cup group.
It could be argued that the side is not as strong as the Yugoslavia team that took part in the 1998 World Cup, however, Stankovic believes that the solidarity within the squad will help the team progress.
"We are a group on and off the pitch, almost like a family," he stated from the training camp in Palic.
"This team is known for its camaraderie and gritty determination, that's what has taken us to the World Cup finals in Germany."
Serbia & Montenegro have been drawn in the so-called Group of Death, along with twice-champions Argentina, Holland and dangerous African side Ivory Coast.
"I hope our spirt can carry us through a very tough group and into the second round, I don't know how far we can go in the tournament but I can promise that we will make life difficult for everyone we play."
Argentina and Holland are the obvious favourites to progress to the knock-out stages, but Stankovic has been sure not to write off their African rivals.
"To speak of the qualities of Argentina and the Netherlands would be superfluous, but I can't stress enough how impressed I was with Ivory Coast after watching them in this year's African Nations Cup," Stankovic added.
"They are one of the most talented and physically demanding sides I have ever seen."
The current Serbia & Montenegro squad is very inexperienced when it comes to playing in World Cups, with only Stankovic and captain Savo Milosevic having played in a previous tournament. Stankovic believes nothing can compare to playing on football's biggest stage.
"Nothing compares to playing in the World Cup, it's an unforgettable experience and I'm glad that these lads have earned the right to be there," he concluded.
Serbia will play Uruguay on Saturday in their final warm-up game before flying to Austria for a week of solid training. They kick off their World Cup campaign against Holland in Leipzig on June 11.