Injury-hit Serbia out to avoid defeat in Belfast

BELGRADE - Avoiding defeat against Northern Ireland in Belfast would be a good result for injury-hit Serbia in a crunch Euro 2012 Group C qualifier on September 2, coach Vladimir Petrovic said on Friday.

With defender Nemanja Vidic, striker Nikola Zigic and winger Milos Krasic on the sidelines, Petrovic named several fringe players in his 24-man squad to face Northern Ireland and Faroe Islands in Belgrade on September 6.

"If we get a draw in Belfast and beat the Faroes in Belgrade, which we have to, we will stay in contention for a runners-up finish and hence a play-off berth," Petrovic told a news conference.

"Some of the players who broke into the squad represent Serbia's future and they have made tremedous progress in the past year or so," he said.

"We know what to expect in Belfast - a full house of noisy home fans and a difficult match, but if all goes well we will have our fate in our own hands ahead of the final group match against Slovenia."

Ajax Amsterdam's in-form forward Miralem Sulejmani should win a place in the starting line-up against Northern Ireland while Partizan Belgrade winger Nemanja Tomic is also likely to play some part.

Italy lead the group with 16 points from six matches, five more than Slovenia who have played a game more. Third-placed Northern Ireland have nine points from six games, followed by Serbia on eight from six.

The winners of Europe's nine qualifying groups and the best second-placed team will qualify automatically for next year's finals in Poland and Ukraine, while the other eight runners-up enter a two-leg playoff for the remaining four berths.

Squad:

Goalkeepers: Bojan Jorgancevic (Ghent), Damir Kahriman (Tavriya Simferopol), Bojan Saranov (Maccabi Haifa).

Defenders: Branislav Ivanovic (Chelsea), Nenad Tomovic (Lecce), Milan Vilotic (Red Star Belgrade), Milan Bisevac (Paris Saint-Germain), Nenad Subotic (Borussia Dortmund), Aleksandar Kolarov (Manchester City), Dusko Tosic (Red Star Belgrade), Slobodan Rajkovic (Hamburg SV)

Midfielders: Dejan Stankovic (Inter Milan), Zdravko Kuzmanovic (Vfb Stuttgart), Radosav Petrovic (Blackburn Rovers), Ljubomir Fejsa (Olympiakos Piraeus), Milos Ninkovic (Dynamo Kiev), Nemanja Tomic (Partizan Belgrade), Zoran Tosic (CSKA Moscow), Adem Ljajic (Fiorentina), Miralem Sulejmani (Ajax Amsterdam), Milan Jovanovic (Anderlecht).

Strikers: Marko Pantelic (Olympiakos Piraeus), Jovan Damjanovic (Borac Cacak), Ranko Despotovic (Urawa Red Diamonds).


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