Photo by Marcio Machado/Eurasia Sport Images/Getty Images
The 2022 Qatar World Cup is fast-approaching, with the host country taking on Ecuador on November 20 – but have Serbia ever qualified for a World Cup finals before, as they look to qualify from a tricky Group G?
It is incredible to think that in the midst of a Premier League campaign, England are only a month and 11 days from their opening clash against Iran. Serbia, meanwhile, face a tough group – taking on Brazil, Switzerland and Cameroon.
It is a bit of a tricky one to dissect, largely because of the name Serbia have played under. To begin with, Serbia were politically under the Kingdom of Yugoslavia. So, it is difficult to claim that Serbia actually qualified for the World Cup.
From the 1930 World Cup, up until the 2002 tournament in South Korea and Japan, they were Yugoslavia. Out of 17 tournaments, Yugoslavia only qualified for eight. They finished in fourth place in Uruguay 1930, and in Chile in 1962.
For the 2006 competition in Germany, Serbia competed as Serbia and Montenegro. Players such as Mateja Kezman, Nikola Zigic and Daniel Ljuboja all featured. But with only one win in three group games, they were knocked out.
From 2010 onwards, Serbia have competed as themselves – as a country. Like 2006, Serbia won one of three group games in South Africa and were knocked out. Failing to qualify for Brazil 2014, they returned to the World Cup in 2018.
But recent history prevailed, unfortunately for Serbia. Again, just one win in three group games. They were knocked out. Now, they have qualified for the 2022 World Cup and there is plenty of optimism. Drojan Stojkovic is impressing.
As manager, he has won 13 of 20 games in charge. They finished top of qualification, above Portugal – with 20 points from eight games. They boast some serious players, especially in the final third – Juventus ace Dusan Vlahovic is one.
Fulham’s Aleksandar Mitrovic is vice captain, with 50 goals in 76 caps. Ajax Dusan Tadic, Juventus summer signing Filip Kostic and Fiorentina’s ex-Real Madrid striker Luka Jovic are also options. But their group is very, very tough.
So, Serbia themselves have been at the World Cup – but only twice as their own country. Hopefully for Serbian fans, then will improve on just three points in the group stage – but their group is tough. Qualifying will be a big ask.
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