Red Star and Partizan appeal for trouble-free derby

BELGRADE - Belgrade rivals Red Star and Partizan appealed for fans to keep their passion bottled on Saturday and make Serbia's 139th derby a football feast after two serious incidents earlier this month.

The fixture will be played under tight security with up to 10,000 riot police present after rampaging Serbia fans forced the team's Euro 2012 qualifier against Italy to be abandoned on October 12.

The incident in the Italian port city of Genoa occurred two days after angry protesters clashed with riot police during a gay parade in Belgrade.

"We want to restore the glittering tradition of the Belgrade derby and the only way we can do that is if the players set an example to the fans," Partizan coach Aleksandar Stanojevic told a news conference on Friday.

"We are looking for sportsmanship on and off the pitch and we want to treat the fans to an entertaining game of football, which should be the only talking point after the derby.

"We need to put behind us the recent ugly scenes and show why the Belgrade derby is Serbia's biggest and most sacred football event," he said.

Partizan goalkeeper Vladimir Stojkovic, a former Red Star player, has been targeted by the club's diehard fans since he joined the Serbian champions on loan from Sporting Lisbon in August.

Having printed fake obituaries of Stojkovic and displayed insulting banners during Red Star's home games this seasons, Red Star fans hurled a flare at Stojkovic before Serbia were due to play Italy on October 12.

Serbia fans then threw flares at police and the home fans, forcing the fixture to be abandoned after only six minutes.

Stanojevic said Stojkovic, who is likely to get a hostile reception from Red Star fans, was completely focused on keeping a clean sheet in his first match against his former club.

"I spoke to Stojkovic about his situation and he is 100 percent ready to produce his best performance tomorrow, he is a committed professional and there is absolutely no reason why he shouldn't play to the best of his abilities," he said.

Red Star lead the 16-team first division with 22 points from eight matches, three more than second-placed Partizan who have won a record three league titles in a row.