BELGRADE - Winger Zoran Tosic could be Serbia's trump card in the World Cup finals, coach Radomir Antic said after trimming his provisional 30-man squad to 24 players on Friday.
Tosic, used as a substitute during the qualifiers, cemented his place in the squad after a good second half of the season with Bundesliga side FC Cologne, where he moved on loan from Manchester United in January.
"Tosic could be one of the revelations of the tournament after showing his full potential in the German first division, having made a difficult decision to move to a smaller club from a big one," Antic told Reuters.
"He has shown courage, commitment and desire, which has enabled him to make tremendous progress and his individual skill will be a valuable asset in our bid to do well in the finals.
"A team's style of play rests heavily on a nation's mentality and hence we will stay committed to our qualifying when we played attacking and entertaining football throughout.
"We will start every game confident in ourselves although we are in a very demanding group, therefore I opted for players who will comprise a balanced and focused squad breathing as one."
Serbia face Germany, Australia and Ghana in Group D at the June 11-July 11 finals.
Antic's list of players for next week's training camp in Austria includes no surprises after he dropped strikers Miralem Sulejmani and Dejan Lekic, defenders Jagos Vukovic and Slobodan Rajkovic and midfielders Nemanja Tomic and Nemanja Matic.
He still has to discard one player before FIFA's June 1 deadline and, having named four goalkeepers, is most likely to drop fourth-choice Andjelko Djuricic.
The Serbians open against Ghana, coached by their compatriot Milovan Rajevac, in Pretoria on June 13, before taking on Germany in Port Elizabeth on June 18 and Australia in Nelspruit five days later.
The month-long tournament is the first major event Serbia have reached as an independent nation, following their 2006 World Cup fiasco when they suffered three group-stage defeats as Serbia & Montenegro including a 6-0 mauling by Argentina.
Antic has said his current squad is better than the 2006 side but he remained wary of growing expectations among fans.
"It is not my habit to draw parallels and make comparisons but what I can promise is that we will play our hearts out to represent Serbia in the right way and not let ourselves down," he said.
"Our first task is to make sure the players stay fresh after a long season and our captain Dejan Stankovic, playing in Saturday's Champions League final for Inter Milan against Bayern Munich, may get an extra day or two off."
Serbia coach Radomir Antic named the following provisional 24-man squad on Friday for the World Cup finals in South Africa:
Goalkeepers: Vladimir Stojkovic (Sporting), Zeljko Brkic (Vojvodina Novi Sad), Bojan Isailovic (Zaglebie Lubin), Andjelko Djuricic (Uniao Leiria).
Defenders: Branislav Ivanovic (Chelsea), Antonio Rukavina (Munich 1860), Nemanja Vidic (Manchester United), Neven Subotic (Borussia Dortmund), Aleksandar Lukovic (Udinese), Ivan Obradovic (Real Zaragoza), Aleksandar Kolarov (Lazio).
Midfielders: Dejan Stankovic (Inter Milan), Gojko Kacar (Hertha Berlin), Nenad Milijas (Wolverhampton Wanderers), Zdravko Kuzmanovic (VfB Stuttgart), Radosav Petrovic (Partizan Belgrade), Milos Krasic (CSKA Moscow), Zoran Tosic (Manchester United), Milos Ninkovic (Dynamo Kiev), Milan Jovanovic (Standard Liege).
Forwards: Nikola Zigic (Valencia), Marko Pantelic (Ajax Amsterdam), Danko Lazovic (Zenit St. Petersburg), Dragan Mrdja (Vojvodina Novi Sad).comments