Striker Nikola Žigić believes Serbia must focus on the task at hand as they conclude their UEFA EURO 2008™ qualifying campaign with home fixtures against Kazakhstan and Poland – although their fate will be decided elsewhere.
Javier Clemente's side are third in Group A, four points behind leaders Poland and three short of second-placed Portugal, with all the teams having two games to play. Much will depend on Žigić, who with six goals from nine qualifying appearances is his country's top scorer, if Serbia are to get the two victories required to maintain any possibility of reaching Austria and Switzerland. They host Kazakhstan on Saturday, then entertain Poland on 21 November.
According to the Valencia CF forward, however, the responsibility for success is a shared one. "Like every striker, I always think I can do better and score more goals," Žigić said. "I'm satisfied with my contribution although individual statistics are not important – collective matters are our interest.
"We wanted to be masters of our destiny, but unfortunately we've lost that right," added the 27-year-old, whose team's ambitions have been seriously undermined by a run of four winless matches between August and October. "Now we're concentrating on our two remaining games and our duty is to win. I can't promise we'll get to the EURO but I still believe we can qualify. Kazakhstan beat us in Almaty in March, which was a miracle result, and we want revenge. We must show our quality and finish the campaign in the best way possible. In the future we will not make the same mistakes. We will be better, stronger and more experienced. We have a new young team, we just need time."
Coach Clemente – who may be without captain Dejan Stanković through injury – has taken a relaxed approach in an attempt to relieve the pressure on his squad. On Wednesday they visited the historic royal monument of Oplenac near Topola, in central Serbia, including a tour of the church of Saint Djordje. The players have also seen midfielder Igor Duljaj presented with a Golden Ball by Football Association of Serbia president Zvezdan Terzić. The 28-year-old former FK Partizan player, now with FC Shakhtar Donetsk, won his 50th cap in Azerbaijan last month – seven years after his first. Duljaj and company will hope to have more to celebrate come the final whistle in Belgrade next Wednesday.
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