Mladen Krstajic has been named Serbia coach on a permanent basis after a two-month period as their caretaker, the Balkan nation’s Football Association (FSS) sports director Goran Bunjevcevic said yesterday.
“The FSS board of experts has definitively picked Krstajic to stay in charge until the end of the team’s World Cup campaign,” Bunjevcevic said. “We will reveal the details of the contract and organise an official event to announce it in the second half of January.”
Former Yugoslavia defender Krstajic took over in October from Slavoljub Muslin after the latter had steered Serbia to next year’s World Cup finals, their first major tournament as an independent nation in eight years. Despite his accomplishment, Muslin was axed by the FSS as Serbia’s performances under him were deemed unconvincing and he also came to loggerheads with his bosses over refusing to inject fresh blood into the side.
Krstajic did exactly that in Serbia’s 2-0 win over China and a 1-1 draw with South Korea in November’s friendlies, having unleashed a pack of young players headed by sought-after Lazio midfielder Sergej Milinkovic-Savic.
The 22-year-old playmaker has been in impressive form for the Serie A club since he joined them from Belgian side Genk in 2015, but Muslin argued he was incompatible with his rigid 3-4-3 formation which worked for the national side in the qualifiers.
Serbia, who advanced from Europe’s Group D ahead of Ireland and Wales, were drawn alongside five-time World Cup winners Brazil, Switzerland and Costa Rica in Group E of the 32-team tournament in Russia. They start their campaign against Costa Rica in Samara on June 17, Krstajic’s competitive debut as head coach at any level, followed by games with Swizterland in Kaliningrad on June 22 and Brazil in Moscow five days later.
Bullet sent to Greek federation
chief was ‘terrorist attack’
The Greek Football Federation yesterday said the sending of a three-page threatening letter accompanied by a bullet to its president was an “attempted terrorist attack”. The registered package, which contained the letter and a 9mm bullet, was sent to Vangelis Grammenos at his Athens office on Thursday.
The package was opened by his assistants as he was not at his office at the time. “The Greek Football Federation condemns in its most unequivocal, unambiguous and unmistakable way...yesterday’s attempted terrorist attack on President Grammenos,” the federation said in a statement.
The statement added that “the newly elected administration of the Federation is not intimidated” and said that “complete redevelopment, which may upset some, will be completed,” within the Greek game.
Greek anti-blackmail and anti-terrorist units are investigating the contents of the letter and the bullet in order to find the culprits. Greek media reported that the letter was signed by “the people of a major team”.
Other reports noted that Grammenos has been threatened in the past for his relations with certain clubs and with the current national government. The government has introduced legislation to clean up Greek football, which has been plagued by accusations of match-fixing and violence.
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