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Partizan defend their honour

Published: Friday 8 August 2003, 0.06CET
The 75th championship in Serbia and Montenegro begins on Friday with FK Partizan defending the title.

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Published: Friday 8 August 2003, 0.06CET

Partizan defend their honour

The 75th championship in Serbia and Montenegro begins on Friday with FK Partizan defending the title.
The 75th championship in Serbia and Montenegro starts on Friday with FK Partizan defending the title.

New look
With a new-look league comprising 16 rather than 18 teams, it looks set to be business as usual in the title race with only Partizan and fierce local rivals FK Crvena Zvezda being tipped for honours.

Belgrade dominant
In the last 13 years the Belgrade duo have utterly dominated football in the country, with only FK Obilic managing to break their stranglehold when they took the crown in the 1997/98 season.

Higher standard
That said, the standard of football in Serbia and Monetenegro is improving with teams once regarded as also-rans - FK Sutjeska, OFK Beograd, FK Vojvodina and FK Zeleznik - now capable of holding their own against the giants.

Zvezda favourites
The return of coach Slavoljub Muslin to Crvena Zvezda, along with the signings of internationals Bojan Djordjic on loan from Manchester United FC and Dragan Sarac from SV Pasching, has tipped the pre-season odds in their favour.

'We have a duty'
"We have the best team in the country and we lack only experience," said Muslin. "We have a duty to bring the title back to our stadium and I believe we will succeed. Our long-term strategy is also to return to the European scene."

Partizan departures
Partizan have made new additions too, but the departure of star player Zvonimir Vukic to FC Shakhtar Donetsk has devastated the club's midfield, and striker Danko Lazovic's move to Feyenoord has not improved matters.

Matthäus confident
None the less, Partizan coach Lothar Matthäus remains confident. "We are the champions and we intend to keep the title," he said. "But the season is long and we will see what it brings. At the moment we are concentrating on the UEFA Champions League."

League newcomers
FK Sartid begin the campaign as Serbo-Montenegrin Cup holders, while there are four new arrivals in the top flight following promotion last season. FK Borac Cacak and FK Napredak have been there before, but FK Buducnost Banatski Dvori and FK Kom will challenge the best for the first time.

Last updated: 09/02/11 18.58CET

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