Serbia unfazed by FA chief quitting, says Stojkovic

Zoran Milosavljevic
·2-min read

By Zoran Milosavljevic

BELGRADE (Reuters) - Serbia will head into their opening 2022 World Cup qualifier against Ireland undeterred by the resignation of the Balkan nation's FA (FSS) president, coach Dragan Stojkovic told a news conference on Tuesday.

FSS chief Slavisa Kokeza stepped down on Monday following allegations that he had links to organised crime which he strongly denied. He said he resigned in order to make life easier for the national team.

Former Yugoslavia playmaker Stojkovic, who took over on March 3 after Serbia failed to reach Euro 2020, added he expected his team to fire on all cylinders as he makes his Serbia coaching debut on Wednesday.

"Kokeza's resignation doesn't affect the sports side of things as we are fully focused on the task ahead and the players are intelligent enough to know what they need to do on the pitch," he said.

"Ireland should be the only obstacle and our mindset is to entertain and win. Those two don't always go hand in hand but I am a big fan of attacking football," said the 56-year old who helped Yugoslavia reach the 1990 World Cup quarter-finals.

Ireland coach Stephen Kenny was confident his injury-hit side would stand their ground in the Rajko Mitic stadium.

"Serbia are an extremely talented team, we have seen that in some of their recent games, they beat Russia 5-0 (in the Nations League), from our point of view we're looking forward to the game," he said.

"It's our ambition to win the game, we're not here with a defensive mode, admittedly we know the team overall lacks experience in key positions but there is a lot of talent within the group and I hope we can put in a performance."

Defender Seamus Coleman, who returned to the squad after missing the last 10 games for Ireland, was hopeful of getting the nod from Kenny.

"It’s been on my mind," he said. "I can’t even remember when the last one I played in was so just to get here, to be with the lads and the staff is an amazing feeling but putting on the green jersey is what we all want."

(Writing by Zoran Milosavljevic; Editing by Toby Davis)