Monday, November 29, 1999

Antic looks to conjure ace in pack against Germany

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Serbia coach Radomir Antic had on his best poker face on Thursday, refusing to give away any details about his plans for Group D showdown with Germany which could could settle their World Cup fate.A smiling Antic kept his cards close to his chest, revealing only that Neven Subotic would come in for suspended Aleksandar Lukovic in central defence."Subotic is a very good substitute for Lukovic," Antic said."For sure Subotic will be one of the starters tomorrow, but don't ask me to tell you who will be the other 10."For Serbia, who have reached their first major tournament as an independent nation, the stakes could not be higher and Antic was unwilling to put his cards on the table.A loss to three-times champion Germany on Friday would all but end Serbia's chances of advancing.Serbia lost their opening hand falling to Ghana 1-0 and will next face the team that has shown the most impressive form of the tournament so far when they thrashed Australia 4-0."We didn't play at the level we are used to during the game against Ghana. Each team mate has to do better than they usually do ... to win against a very good opponent," Antic said.The Germans, thrice-winners, will arrive on a high with a young and relatively untried team who hit the ground running on the biggest stage.Antic praised the strength of his next opponent who he said played with very gifted young players, but said his squad still had the potential to at least draw and advance to the last 16."The match is very, very important for us. We have done enough to be prepared ... (but) everything depends also on the other games that will be played," he said.Serbia face Australia in their last group match in Nelspruit on June 23 when Ghana also face Germany in Johannesburg."Even if we have a draw, maybe we will manage to get to the second round which is our greatest wish," the coach said.Antic will be eager to avoid a repeat of the 2006 World Cup fiasco, when Serbia and Montenegro lost all three matches and conceded 10 goals.(Editing by Jon Bramley)(For more news on Reuters India, click
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