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WCQ Preview: Faroe Islands - Serbia

Wednesday June, 10, Torsvollor Stadium, Torshavn, Faroe Islands

Despite the fact we are almost mid-way into June, the season isn’t quite over yet for international sides across the globe.

In exactly one year's time, the World Cup will begin in earnest in the inaugural tournament on the continent of Africa, and sides are jostling for position in their respective groups before the ever-decreasing close season allows weary legs to be rested.

Serbia of course will see Saturday’s fixture against the Faroe Islands as a straightforward three points. The minnows, now managed by former Republic of Ireland boss Brian Kerr, are ranked 50th of 53 nations in UEFA and have a notoriously dreadful record.

In this particular campaign however, there appears to be signs that the tiny nation that boasts just fewer than 50,000 inhabitants are less likely to be humiliated on the world stage.

In October, they picked up their first point in over three years of competitive fixtures in a 1-1 draw with Austria, which was preceded by a gallant display against Romania, holding the Carpathians for an hour of the contest before eventually losing 1-0. Furthermore, they managed a 2-1 win over nearby Iceland in March in a friendly.

In their last campaign they also gave World Champions Italy a real fright in a tense 2-1 defeat and their most recent clashes have all been more competitive affairs. The days of the Faroes suffering cricket-score losses appear to be over.

Despite this, Serbia should win the match. Experienced former Atletico Madrid coach Raddy Antic has oversaw an excellent run of results that sees the White Eagles sit proudly atop Group Seven with a five point lead over the stuttering French.

It is shaping up to be a two-horse race for top spot between those two sides, and nothing less than three points will be good enough for Antic and his players in the Torsvollor Stadium.

Serbia have a wealth of attacking talent they have at their disposal. Nikola Zigic netted 13 goals in nineteen starts for Racing Santander in the second half of the season, which ultimately kept them in the Spanish Primera Division, while Marko Pantelic was an influential figure in Hertha Berlin’s superb 4th place finish in the German Bundesliga. Ajax man Miralem Sulejmani is still only 20, and has shown glimpses of his ability in the Eredivisie.

However, Serbia laboured to a win over Austria on Saturday, and will have key men such as Nemanja Vidic (injury) and Dejan Stankovic (suspension) missing from the trip altogether

They should however comfortably beat the Faroes, but the match still needs to be won – can Antic’s men maintain their concentration and cement their lead in Group 7?

TEAM FORM


FAROE ISLANDS

22 Mar   Iceland 1-2 Faroe Islands (FRIENDLY)
15 Oct    Lithuania 1-0 Faroe Islands (WCQ)
11 Oct    Faroe Islands 1-1 Austria (WCQ)
10 Sep    Faroe Islands 0-1 Romania (WCQ)
06 Sep    Serbia 2-0 Faroe Islands (WCQ)

SERBIA

06 June   Serbia 1-0 Austria (WCQ)
01 Apr    Serbia 2-0 Sweden (FRIENDLY)
28 Mar    Romania 2-3 Serbia (WCQ)
11 Feb    Serbia 0-1 Ukraine (FRIENDLY)
08 Feb    Cyprus 0-2 Serbia (FRIENDLY)

TEAM NEWS

FAROE ISLANDS

Probable XI: Mikkelsen, J. Jacobsen, Benjaminsen, Danielsen, Bo, Tor Naes, Davidsen, Lokin, C. Jacobsen, Holst, Samuelsen

SERBIA

Defender Nemanja Vidic limped off with an ankle injury at half-time and will miss the trip, while captain Dejan Stankovic and Bosko Jankovic are suspended. Left-back Ivan Obradovic sat out the Austria game with a hamstring injury, but Antic will welcome back in-form striker Nikola Zigic, who was suspended for the match against Austria on Saturday.

Probable XI: Stojkovic, Manic, Dragutinovic, Ivanovic, Subitic, Krasic, Milijas, Jovanovic, Lazovic, Pantelic, Zigic

PLAYERS TO WATCH


FAROE ISLANDS


Veteran goalkeeper Jakup Mikkelsen has conducted himself well in his side's four qualifiers so far, restricting the oppositions goal tallies, and was instrumental in his team's 1-1 draw with Austria last month. He will undoubtedly be the busier shot stopper when the group leaders visit on Wednesday.

SERBIA

Europe’s tallest hit-man Nikola Zigic had a fantastic end to the season following his loan switch to Racing Santander in January, and his goal scoring exploits have alerted English Premier League clubs to his form.  He will relish the opportunity to face a weaker side and notch a couple of international goals.

PREDICTION

Serbia are progressing superbly in Group 7, and there is no question that they will add another three points to their total against an improving but weak Faroes side.

Faroe Islands 0-3 Serbia

Paul Macdonald, Goal.com