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By ESPN Staff

Spaniard Clemente agrees deal to coach Serbia

MADRID, July 18 (Reuters) - Former Spain boss Javier Clemente said on Tuesday he would take over as head coach of the Serbian national side for the next two years.

'It has been agreed, I'm now coach of Serbia and will coach the side through the qualification for Euro 2008,' Clemente told Reuters.

'I will travel to Serbia on Thursday to sign the deal and be presented to the media on Friday.

The 56-year-old will become the first foreign manager in charge of Serbia, who meet the Czech Republic in a friendly in Prague on Aug. 16, their first international since the spilt with Montenegro.

'At the moment I can't say precisely what plans I have for the team because I have to study the set-up, the players and everything else,' he said. 'I don't know enough about them yet.

'One thing I can say, though, is that the Serbian Federation are prepared to give me the freedom I need to work. I wouldn't have accepted the job if they weren't prepared to do that. That would be stupid.'

Clemente said that former Yugoslavia defender Risto Vidakovic, who played under him while he was coach of Real Betis, would act as one of his assistants.

The former Spain coach also confirmed that he would continue to live in Bilbao while doing the job.

'I will do exactly what I did when I was Spain coach,' he said. 'I will live in Bilbao but will be travelling throughout Europe and Serbia to watch the players as much as possible.'

Clemente, renowned for his straight-speaking, was sacked by Athletic Bilbao earlier this month after criticising the club's transfer policy despite steering them clear of relegation last season.

He 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 between 1992 and 1998, leading them to the quarter-finals of the 1994 World Cup and the 1996 European championship.

He has also coached Espanyol, Real Betis, Real Sociedad, Atletico Madrid and French side Olympique Marseille.

Serbia & Montenegro played as a unified team at the World Cup in Germany after Montenegro voted for independence from Serbia in May.

They exited the tournament in the first round after defeats by the Netherlands, Argentina, who thumped them 6-0, and Ivory Coast, forcing manager Ilija Petkovic to step down.

Serbian and Montenegrin football bodies parted company earlier this month. Serbia will play in the Euro 2008 qualifiers on their own while Montenegro have yet to gain international soccer recognition.

Serbia are in Group A with Portugal, Poland, Belgium, Finland, Kazakhstan, Azerbaijan and Armenia.