Yellow cards give Antic a headache

JOHANNESBURG - Serbia coach Radomir Antic is considering resting some of his booked first-choice players for the World Cup Group D match against Australia on Wednesday.

The entire back four, plus midfielder Zdravko Kuzmanovic and striker Nikola Zigic, are on one yellow card and could miss the second round match if they progress from a tight group.

"That is a lot of players with one booking and we still haven't decided what to do, it could be a last-minute decision," Antic told a news conference on Sunday.

"On the one hand, we have to go for a win and cross the next bridge when we come to it but, on the other, we also have to look ahead because we can't afford to lose too many starters if we reach the second stage.

"Australia are a fiercely competitive team so it's good to have central defender Aleksandar Lukovic back from suspension and he is likely to be picked again."

Lukovic missed the 1-0 win over Germany after being sent off in Serbia's opening loss to Ghana by the same scoreline.

He is set to take his place back from Neven Subotic, one of the four defenders on a yellow card.

The other three are Branislav Ivanovic, Nemanja Vidic and Aleksandar Kolarov but, given the lack of depth at the back in Serbia's squad, all three should start against Australia.


Serbia will qualify for the last 16 if they win and a draw could also be enough depending on the outcome of the Germany-Ghana match at Soccer City in Johannesburg.

Antic was impressed by 10-man Australia's performance in a 1-1 draw with Ghana on Saturday and acknowledged Serbia had to improve on their fortuitous win over Germany to progress.

"Australia come across as the fittest team in the tournament," he said. "They had more chances than Ghana to win the game after losing Harry Kewell to a red card and we'll have to be at our best to beat them.

"Tim Cahill will return from suspension and that will be a massive boost for them while the fans could also be a factor...

"But we will be at full strength and raring to go after beating Germany for the first time in 37 years," he added.

"That win was more than just three points as it has inspired us to aim for greater heights."

Winger Milan Jovanovic, who scored the winner against Germany, said the victory against the triple World Cup winners would amount to nothing if Serbia don't advance from the group.

"It was a great feeling but it will soon be forgotten if we don't finish the job against the Australians. We must keep that in mind and stay fully focused on the task ahead."

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