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Savicevic stands down

Published: Wednesday 11 June 2003, 20.53CET
Dejan Savicevic has resigned as Serbia and Montenegro coach, after the qualifying defeat by Azerbaijan.
Published: Wednesday 11 June 2003, 20.53CET

Savicevic stands down

Dejan Savicevic has resigned as Serbia and Montenegro coach, after the qualifying defeat by Azerbaijan.

Dejan Savicevic has resigned as coach of Serbia and Montenegro after his side were defeated 2-1 by Azerbaijan today, their second UEFA EURO 2004™ qualifying Group 9 loss in five days.

Late winner
After losing 3-0 in Finland on Saturday, the 36-year-old Savicevic said that he would probably stand down if Serbia and Montenegro failed to win their next three qualifying matches. He could not have envisaged the manner of today's reverse, Azerbaijan cancelling out Branko Boskovic's 27th-minute opener with goals in the 86th minute and added time.

'No stamina'
"It is all over - I am quitting," said Savicevic, who left the dugout before the final whistle. "The reason? Well, players from our national championship do not have strength and stamina to run for 90 minutes, even against Azerbaijan, and most of our [foreign-based] players are of an age when it is not easy to play quality football matches."

'Hopes lost'
This time last year Savicevic agreed a two-year contract extension, a deal which would have taken him to next year's UEFA European Championship finals in Portugal. Serbia and Montenegro are now in serious danger of missing out, as they are seven points behind group leaders Wales having played a game more and two behind second-placed Italy. "All our hopes for Portugal are lost," Savicevic added.

Gifted player
One of Europe's most gifted midfield players of the early 1990's, Savicevic joined a select group of players to lift the European Champion Clubs' Cup with different clubs when he added his 1994 triumph with AC Milan to FK Crvena Zvedza's success three years earlier. He first took charge of the national team for their final 2002 FIFA World Cup qualifiers. As Yugoslavia, the team failed to qualify for Korea/Japan.

Trio retire
He is not the only famous Serbo-Montenegrin name to call it a day after today's defeat. Defensive stalwarts Sinisa Mihajlovic and Zoran Mirkovic announced their international retirements, as did striker Predrag Mijatovic.

Last updated: 12/06/03 18.09CET

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