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Savicevic hopes Montenegro can qualify for 2010

BELGRADE, May 22 (Reuters) - Montenegro Football Association President Dejan Savicevic hopes the Adriatic republic which voted for independence from Serbia on Sunday will reach the 2010 World Cup finals in South Africa.

'We will use the available dates for friendlies in Euro 2008 qualifying to build a side capable of challenging for a berth in the 2010 World Cup finals,' he told Reuters on Monday.

'I hope that Montenegro will be admitted to FIFA and UEFA soon so that we can get the process underway,' he said.

Serbia and Montenegro will compete as a unified team in the June 9-July 9 World Cup finals in Germany and Savicevic said the coastal republic would be hoping for a good outcome.

'Regardless of who voted for independence instead of a state union with Serbia, we will all support the unified team. Serbia is closest to my heart after my native Montenegro and I will cheer for them in the Euro 2008 qualifiers too,' he said.

An official preliminary count gave the pro-independence bloc in Montenegro, strongly supported by Savicevic in the run-up to the referendum, 55.4 per cent of the vote - just over the 55 percent threshold set by the European Union.

FIFA earlier said that regardless of the referendum outcome, Serbia and Montenegro would be allowed to compete as a unified team in Germany to avoid complicating the month-long tournament.

Savicevic, who scored 29 goals in 56 appearances for the former Yugoslavia, said he was confident Serbia and Montenegro would do well in Germany.

'It's an excellent group of players and I have a lot of faith in them. I am sure thay have the ability to get past the group stage and give the fans plenty to cheer about.'

Serbia and Montenegro have been drawn in difficult Group C with two-time world champions Argentina, the Netherlands and African Nations Cup finalists Ivory Coast.