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Partizan can retain title, says new coach Roeber

BELGRADE, Oct 7 (Reuters) - Juergen Roeber, the new coach of Serbia and Montenegro champions Partizan Belgrade, is confident the club can retain the league title.

The German took over after Vladimir Vermezovic stepped down on Saturday following a string of results that saw the club out of European competition and third in the league.

'This team has a huge potential and my ambition is to win the league,' the 52 year-old told reporters on Thursday. 'It is of utmost important to maintain discipline, work hard and play entertaining football.

Vermezovic last season guided Partizan to a league title and the last 16 of the UEFA Cup but made an early exit from Europe this time and resigned after a shock 5-2 home defeat to Israeli side Maccabi Petach Tikva.

Partizan lost the tie 5-4 on aggregate after failing to qualify for the Champions league and after only one win in their last three league matches have slipped from the top of the table behind Belgrade rivals OFK and Red Star.

'Losing to Maccabi was very unfortunate and I am quite sure it happened because the lads were still reeling from the dramatic Champions league elimination at the hands of Artmedia Bratislava,' Roeber said.

Roeber will be the second German manager to coach Partizan after former World Cup winner Lothar Matthaeus guided them to a league title and their only Champions league campaign so far, in 2003.

Partizan's next fixture is on October 15 at former European champions Red Star, who are level on points with them but ahead on goal difference.

'It is a very big match and the good thing is that we don't have to seek special motivation in making a fresh start,' Roeber said. 'Red Star are a good side but we have another week to prepare and I am sure we can beat them.'