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By ESPN Staff

Clemente to take over as Serbia coach - Reports

BELGRADE, July 17 (Reuters) - Former Spain manager Javier Clemente is set to take over as head coach of the Serbian national side, Belgrade press reported on Monday.

The high-circulating daily Sportski zurnal said Clemente would sign a two-year contract on Friday worth 700,000 euros a year, with the aim of taking Serbia to the Euro 2008 finals.

'Clemente is our new coach,' the daily said in a front-page headline, adding that the 56-year-old Basque took the offer after talks with Serbia's Football Association (FSS) chief Zvezdan Terzic in the Spanish resort of Palma de Mallorca.

FSS officials were not immediately available for comment.

Clemente won two Spanish league titles in the first of his three spells with Athletic Bilbao and enjoyed an impressive run of 31 unbeaten games while in charge of Spain 1992-1998.

If he takes over, Clemente would be the first foreign manager in charge of Serbia, who meet the Czech Republic in a friendly in Prague on Aug. 16 - their first international as an independent nation since the split with Montenegro.

Serbia and Montenegro, the last remnants of the former Yugoslavia, played as a unified team at the World Cup in Germany after Montenegro voted independence from Serbia in May.

They bowed out in the opening round with a 1-0 defeat by the Netherlands, a 6-0 drubbing at the hands of Argentina and a 3-2 loss to Ivory Coast, forcing manager Ilija Petkovic to step down.

Serbian and Montenegrin soccer bodies parted company earlier this month. Serbia will play in the Euro 2008 qualifying campaign on its own while Montenegro is yet to gain international soccer recognition.

Serbia have been drawn in group A with Portugal, Poland, Belgium, Finland, Kazakhstan, Azerbaijan and Armenia.