Slavoljub Muslin has officially replaced Radovan Curcic as the next Serbian national team manager after only 11 matches. Curcic tallied five wins and six losses in his tenure with the national team. He also had a stint back in 2011-2012 where he was a “caretaker” after Vladimir Petrovic was let go.
Slavoljub Muslin has managed many teams in his 19 year career. He has seen it all from coaching clubs (Red Star Belgrade, Vojvodina, FC Timisoara) to national teams (China, Serbia, Iraq and Yemen).
Serbia vs Cyprus, May 25th
Serbia vs Israel, May 31st
Russia vs Serbia, June 5th
Muslin’s first call ups are listed below by position (red font-debut).
Vladimir Stojkovic-Maccabi Haifa
Predrag Rajkovic-Maccabi Tel-Aviv
Damir Kahriman-Red Star Belgrade
Aleksandar Jovanovic-Radnicki Nis
Notes: This is Jovanovic’s first call-up to the national team after the superb season he is having with Serbian side, Radnicki Nis, who sit in 5th place currently. Expect Rajkovic and Stojakovic to carry most of the workload in the three friendlies Serbia has coming up.
Milan Rodic-Krylia Sovetov Samara
Aleksandar Kolarov-Manchester City
Filip Mladenovic-FC Cologne
Nemanja Milunovic-Bate Borisov
Notes: Milan Rodic was probably one of the biggest surprises on Muslin’s list because he has not been getting playing time in the last couple of years. This year though, he has featured in 14 league matches for Krylia where he has tallied a goal and an assist. With an aging Kolarov, this could be Rodic’s time to show what he has and become a possible replacement for the aforementioned Kolarov. Milunovic has also received his first call-up after a spectacular season with Belarusian side, Bate Borisov.
Marko Grujic-Red Star Belgrade
Adem Ljajic-Inter Milan
Notes: No new names in the midfield, but look for Muslin to experiment with plenty of young talent on this part of the pitch.
Zoran Tosic-CSKA Moscow
Andrija Zivkovic-Partizan Belgrade
Nemanja Mihajlovic-Partizan Belgrade
Notes: Nemanja Mihajlovic has had a superb season with Partizan, where he has tallied seven goals and 14 assists in just 20 matches played. Andrija Pavlovic has also bursted onto the scene with 17 goals and four assists in 34 league matches. Both players will receive plenty of interest from clubs this summer.
Rifts, expectations and predictions
In my opinion, Radovan Curcic was never really the answer as manager, more importantly; he has never won anything in his career, thus lacking a winner’s mentality.
Curcic also got into a spat with Dusan Tadic, Nemanja Gudelj and Dusko Tosic. All three players thought that they should have been called up to the last friendlies that took place in March. Instead Curcic released the list of players he was taking with the three aforementioned players omitted and stated that “this is the best the country currently has”. This did not sit well with Tadic, Gudelj and Tosic. Tadic is the best playmaker the country has, without a doubt. Gudelj receives call-ups virtually every time, but even though he does not play much, he is a player who should always be with the team due to his great form with Ajax. Tosic is a sold left back, who will have to prove he is good enough to play for the national team once again.
I expect Muslin to do some serious experimenting with the players he has called up. Nemanja Matic is suspended for three matches, once the World Cup qualifiers get underway, so expect to see: Fejsa, Milivojevic, Zdjelar, Grujic and Milinkovic-Savic all get a chance to play as defensive midfielders.
Nastasic and S. Rajkovic were both promising central defenders at one point in their careers before injuries hit them hard. Look for the both of them to finally get on the pitch and make a statement for future matches.
Serbia likes to play the 4-2-3-1 formation, but with many of our strikers currently in form, maybe Muslin looks to play a 4-1-3-2 formation, allowing the likes of Stojiljkovic and Mitrovic/Pavlovic to play together. 4-3-3 could be an option as well, with speedsters Zivkovic and Kostic on the wings, looking to distribute. It should be noted that Zivkovic has not played a match since December due to a disagreement with the management at Partizan.
I expect Serbia to beat Cyprus and Israel, if we play to our potential. The match versus Russia will be a true test for the players and I fully expect Slavoljub Muslin to take it seriously, as it is our last friendly before the World Cup qualifiers get underway in September.
Ogi is a graduate of Humber College’s Sport Management program. He is the founder of Blago Blogger Sports.