Facts & figures: Serbia

Factbox on World Cup qualifiers Serbia: World Cup record:

Previous appearances in finals: None as independent nation. Nine as part of former Yugoslavia, one as Serbia and Montenegro.

Best performance: Semi-finals in Chile 1962 as part of former Yugoslavia. As Serbia and Montenegro, they exited the 2006 tournament in Germany after three group-stage defeats.

Coach: Radomir Antic

A former Partizan Belgrade defender, he also had spells with Fenerbahce, Real Zaragoza and Luton Town. Antic coached both Spanish giants, Real Madrid and Barcelona, but the highlight of his career as manager was winning the Spanish league and cup double with Atletico Madrid in 1996.

He rejuvenated Serbia after their failure to qualify for Euro 2008. An iron-fisted coach who quickly won the players' respect and media praise for his no-nonsense approach.

Key players:

Nemanja Vidic (Manchester United). Age: 28. Defender

Widely regarded as one of the world's best centrebacks. Won three successive league titles and the 2008 UEFA Champions League title with his club, while he was also the backbone of Serbia's defence in their World Cup qualifying campaign.

Milan Jovanovic (Standard Liege). Age: 28. Forward

The team's top scorer in the qualifiers with five goals, dropped after the Euro 2008 failure and recalled by Antic only because of injuries to some key players. With a bag full of tricks and quick feet, he has been in top form since.

Nikola Zigic (Valencia). Age: 29. Forward

The hitman, who is 2.02 metres tall, is always a menace in the air but also has good close control for a man of his size. Had two excellent spells with Racing Santander but has struggled to win a first-team place at Spanish first-division rivals Valencia.

FIFA world ranking November 2009: 20

How they qualified: Serbia won Europe's Group Seven ahead of 2006 finalists France, having sealed their berth in next year's finals with a match to spare after a 5-0 home rout of Romania. They had a draw and a defeat in their two games against the French but collected a maximum 12 points from matches with Romania and Austria, where France dropped seven points.

Prospects: Serbia have switched from a team with an industrious approach to being an entertaining side under Antic, but they struggle against top-level opposition. With plenty of talented midfielders but lacking squad depth at the back and up front, the Serbians will need a kind draw to stand a realistic chance of progressing into the last 16.