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 Posted by ESPN Staff
Aug 25, 2008

Antic injects new blood into Serbia squad

BELGRADE, Aug 25 (Reuters) - Serbia's new coach Radomir Antic said on Monday he believed an injection of fresh blood would help his team make a good start in their World Cup 2010 qualifiers next month.

'We need a blend of youth and experience,' Antic told a news conference after naming his 23-man squad for Group Seven matches at home to the Faroe Islands on Sept 6 and away to 2006 finalists France four days later.

'Injecting some fresh blood will make sure the players compete for a place in the starting lineup,' added Antic, who replaced Miroslav Djukic on Wednesday.

Antic named uncapped left back Ivan Obradovic and midfielder Nenad Milijas in his squad and also recalled veteran central defender Mladen Krstajic as well as the versatile Ivan Ergic.

Serbia failed to qualify for Euro 2008 under Spaniard Javier Clemente and then endured a five-game winless streak under Djukic.

Djukic drew two and lost three games in friendlies and his efforts to rebuild Serbia's senior team ended in an acrimonious split with the Football Association (FSS) after he made an early exit from the Bejing Olympics..

Antic, 59, who won the Spanish league and Cup double with Atletico Madrid in 1996, is confident he will be able to impose his authority in the dressing room.

'We have to restore discipline and commitment to the national team because a good atmosphere and 100 percent effort are the basic prerequisites for success,' he said.

'Good individuals don't necessarily translate into a good team and I will work 24 hours a day to make sure we live up to out potential and the fans' expectations.

'Time is not on our side because we have no room to rebuild, but we still have to do everything we can to come through a tough qualifying group.

'I can only promise that the players I select will give their best because I will accept nothing less.'

Antic has hinted he may attempt to persuade Barcelona teenager Bojan to play for Serbia.

The 17-year-old Bojan emerged as a major talent last season, and was called up by Spain prior to Euro 2008.

However, illness prevented him from playing a friendly against France and he withdrew from consideration for the European Championships, citing fatigue.

Bojan was born in Spain to a Serbian father - former Red Star Belgrade player Bojan Krkic, who is now a Barca scout - and a Catalan mother, and he has represented Spain at both Under-17 and Under-21 level, winning the European Under-17 title in 2007.

Antic is now hoping to use his relationship with the player's father to persuade him to switch allegiance.

'Bojan's father is my big friend,' Antic said. 'I've talked with him about the possibility of (Bojan) playing for Serbia, as we would be very honoured if he decided that. At this moment I can only say - that story is still wide open.'

Goalkeepers: Vladimir Disljenkovic (Metalurh Donetsk), Vladimir Stojkovic (Sporting Lisbon).

Defenders: Branislav Ivanovic (Chelsea), Nemanja Vidic (Manchester United), Ivica Dragutinovic (Sevilla), Mladen Krstajic (Schalke 04), Dusko Tosic (Werder Bremen), Ivan Obradovic (Partizan Belgrade), Antonio Rukavina (Borussia Dortmund), Gojko Kacar (Hertha Berlin).

Midfielders: Dejan Stankovic (Inter Milan), Ivan Ergic (Basel), Nenad Milijas (Red Star Belgrade), Milos Krasic (CSKA Moscow), Zdravko Kuzmanovic (Fiorentina), Sasa Ilic (Salzburg), Stefan Babovic (Nantes), Miralem Sulejmani (Ajax Amsterdam), Bosko Jankovic (Palermo), Zoran Tosic (Partizan Belgrade).

Strikers: Nikola Zigic (Valencia), Danko Lazovic (PSV Eindhoven), Marko Pantelic (Hertha Berlin).

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