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Serbia boss Krstajic happy to rely on 'important cog' Mitrovic

11:35 PM GMT+8 17/06/2018
Mitrovic - cropped
Serbia boss Mladen Krstajic is happy to rely on Aleksandar Mitrovic, despite the striker's poor finishing in the 1-0 win over Costa Rica.

Aleksandar Mitrovic was branded a "important cog" in Serbia's set-up by Mladen Krstajic, despite the striker wasting a glut of chances in the 1-0 win over Costa Rica in World Cup Group E.

Aleksandar Kolarov's stunning free-kick secured the points for Serbia in Samara, but Mitrovic failed to cap a fine individual display with a goal - twice fluffing his lines when one on one with Keylor Navas.

However, Krstajic, who only took over Serbia last October, has no doubts about the 23-year-old's quality.

"The chances are there to be taken or missed. I wouldn't say he was selfish, I won't hold it against the player," Krstajic said.

"I know his qualities. Everybody knows his qualities. He lacked luck but we are keeping him there for the forthcoming games.

"He is an important cog in our machine. He can hold the ball up or get behind the defence I have never had any doubts over Mitrovic.

"The point is they have the right attitude and approach and that is the important thing - unity. We have to play as a unit."

Kolarov insisted Serbia will not focus on the potential permutations ahead of clashes against Switzerland and Brazil, but simply securing the wins.

"First and foremost I wanted us to play as a team and leave everything on the pitch. This is how the match progressed. We demonstrated this," Kolarov said.

"The coach prepared us well, he knew that set-pieces are our strength and we practiced on the training ground.

"There are several young players, it is important to have three points in the bag. The match against Switzerland is going to be a difficult one. I don't want to do the maths yet.

"If we start doing the maths and play for a draw, we won't be successful."