Bafana tie crucial for Serbia

SERBIAN head coach Radomir Antic said yesterday he was using the friendly against Bafana Bafana at Super Stadium tonight to hone his players for their crunch European Group 7 World Cup qualifier against France at home on September 9.

SERBIAN head coach Radomir Antic said yesterday he was using the friendly against Bafana Bafana at Super Stadium tonight to hone his players for their crunch European Group 7 World Cup qualifier against France at home on September 9.

Antic was impressed by what he saw of South Africa in the recent Confederations Cup in which Bafana finished fourth.

The Serbian head coach said: "South Africa looked good, they are quick, offensive, passed the ball well and are a well-organised side. They are ideal opponents to help prepare us for the remaining World Cup qualifiers."

Antic also got some information on Bafana from his countryman Bora Mitutinovic, who coached Iraq in the Confederations Cup in June where they held Bafana to a dull 0-0 draw at Ellis Park.

Antic said: "Bora is a close friend of mine and he gave me some tips on Bafana."

Serbia are in pole position to qualify for the 2010 showpiece. Antic admitted that his players were coming off their pre-season training and the lack of match fitness might affect his side.

He said: "Both countries' players are either coming off or in pre-season training so it will be the same for both. I am not too concerned as I am looking for a good performance form my players, especially the new ones I might include."

Antic has brought a couple of new faces and will be minus Manchester United defender Nemanja Vidic and his captain Dejan Stankovic, who are both injured. Antic named Valencia striker Nikola Zigic as his captain.

He said he would not use the fact that he will have only one training session under his belt as an excuse should Bafana beat the team ranked 14th in the world.

"We have been together as a squad for 10 months since I took charge, so the fact we have only one training (session) before this friendly is not an excuse. We know each other by now and I expect my players to perform." - Sapa

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