Having taken charge in February 2010, Zlatko Kranjčar oversaw an impressive start to qualifying as Montenegro opened with 1-0 victories against Wales, Bulgaria and Switzerland – Mirko Vučinić scoring the winner in the first and last of those fixtures. The debutants then produced a resilient defensive display to grind out a goalless draw against England at Wembley and maintained their unbeaten home record with a 1-1 home draw against Bulgaria.
A 2-1 defeat in Wales in September 2011 spelt the end for Kranjčar, however, Branko Brnović stepping in, and the new man’s reign got off to the worst possible start when England opened a two-goal lead in Podgorica 31 minutes into his first game. Elsad Zverotić halved the Montenegrin deficit on the stroke of half-time, however, paving the way for a late added-time equaliser from substitute Andrija Delibašić – enough to assure Montenegro of second place with a game to spare despite a 2-0 defeat in Switzerland in their final match.
2010 FIFA World Cup
Qualifying Group 8: P10 W1 D6 L3 F9 A14 Pts9
After gaining independence in 2006, this was the country's first participation in an official tournament and the performance was a creditable one, with only three defeats in ten games – two of them against holders Italy and the other away to Bulgaria. Montenegro's wait for a first competitive victory ended on 10 October 2009 with a 2-1 success against Georgia before the now departed Zoran Filipović's side signed off with a goalless draw away to the Republic of Ireland, the group runners-up. Along with the Irish, Montenegro had the highest number of draws in European zone qualifying – six – and finished fifth in the group, trailing fourth-placed Cyprus only on goal difference.
Montenegro's attacking flair definitely has an Italian feel to it, with the charge led by Serie A strikers Mirko Vučinić of Juventus and ACF Fiorentina's Stevan Jovetić. The pair follow in the footsteps of playmaker Dejan Savićević, probably Montenegro's best-known footballer, whose sparkling performance in the 1994 UEFA Champions League final helped secure the trophy for AC Milan against FC Barcelona. Predrag Mijatović, also Montenegrin, scored the only goal of the 1998 UEFA Champions League final for Real Madrid CF against Juventus.
Play-off record: None
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