New YU coach rings the changes

BELGRADE, Aug 12, 2000 -- (Reuters) Yugoslavia's new coach Ilija Petkovic made wholesale changes when he named the squad on Friday for his first international, a friendly against Northern Ireland In Belfast on August 16.

Petkovic, who begins his 2002 World Cup campaign against Luxembourg on September 3, starts afresh with several regulars no longer involved.

"I picked just five of those who played in the Euro 2000 finals, and another five from the under-21 squad," said Petkovic, who replaced Vujadin Boskov in July after Yugoslavia's lackluster performance in the Euro 2000 finals.

"I talked to all the veteran players and several indicated a desire to withdraw from the national team," he said, but declined to name any.

Defensive mainstay Sinisa Mihajlovic, who was not included, said recently he planned to retire from internationals but Petkovic said the football association had not been notified formally of his withdrawal.

"The match with Northern Ireland will be a hard test for many young players and a chance for them to make the grade," said Petkovic, who has just three Yugoslav-based players in the squad.

He added that he was sorry there couldn't be more friendlies ahead of the Group one opener against Luxembourg.

"We are in a deceptively easy group, but a lot of work remains to take the team up to full form," he said of the pool, which also contains Russia, Switzerland, Slovenia and the Faroe Islands. Petkovic said the search was continuing for a left sided defender, a problem which has been dogging the team for years.

"We have several left-footers we are testing, and it's up to them to prove their worth," he said.


Goalkeepers: Zeljko Cicovic (Las Palmas), Dragoslav Jevric (Vitesse Arnhem).

Defenders: Zoran Mirkovic (Fenerbahce), Nenad Sakic (Sampdoria), Ivan Dudic (Benfica), Dejan Stefanovic (Vitesse Arnhem), Goran Bunjevcevic (Red Star Belgrade), Spira Grujic (Twente Enschede), Milan Obradovic (Obilic Belgrade).

Midfielders: Predrag Djordjevic (Olympiakos Piraeus), Dejan Stankovic (Lazio), Nikola Lazetic (Fenerbahce), Nenad Grozdic (Vitesse Arnhem), Sasa Ilic (Partizan Belgrade).

Strikers:, Savo Milosevic (Parma), Predrag Mijatovic (Fiorentina) Darko Kovacevic (Juventus), Mateja Kezman (PSV Eindhoven).

Original article