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Montenegro's introduction to UEFA European Championship football could not have been better – and coach Zlatko Kranjčar thinks they are not yet at their peak.
In their first match in this competition since the split with Serbia, Montenegro defeated Wales 1-0 on Friday. Things got even better on Tuesday as Elsad Zverotić's 35th-minute strike gave them victory in Bulgaria, avenging a 4-1 loss at Sofia's Nacionalen Stadion Vasil Levski suffered in FIFA World Cup qualifying a year ago.
Those results have left Montenegro level with England on six points at the Group G summit, and Kranjčar was especially delighted at how his side overcame the absence of injured ACF Fiorentina playmaker Stevan Jovetić. "I always believe in this team, even without Stevan Jovetić," Kranjčar said. "Now everyone can see that this team have quality. After two consecutive wins our aim must be second place in the group."
Certainly, the coach – appointed earlier this year to a side that won just once in World Cup qualifying – believes there is more to come. "We haven't shown everything we can," Kranjčar added. "
Later on in qualifying we will be even stronger, as I believe Jovetić and Nikola Drinčić will be back from injuries."
Goalkeeper Mladen Božović, an immense presence in Sofia, particularly enjoyed the victory. "In World Cup qualifiying we got only one point in two games against Bulgaria, but deserved much more," the Videoton FC custodian said. "This is our revenge, but the most important thing is that we took a big step forward. After the Jovetić injury, no one believed that we could beat Wales and Bulgaria, but we played with confidence and deserved both victories. Sometimes we had luck, but luck must be deserved. And we deserved it."
One Serie A player who was involved this week, AS Roma winger Mirko Vučinić, is thrilled by results so far but is keeping his feet grounded. "This is an unbelievable feeling, but now we must focus only on our next game, against Switzerland in Podgorica on 8 October," said the Montenegro captain, who scored in Wales. "If we already start thinking about second or first place in the group, we will have problems. But we are in a great position now and our ambitions must be high."
Striker Radomir Djalović cannot wait for the visit of Switzerland. "Before these two matches, we thought about four points and dreamt of six," the HNK Rijeka forward said. "Our dream came true. We fought bravely against Wales and Bulgaria, believed in ourselves, had tactical discipline and mental strength from the first to the last minute in both matches. Now anything is possible. We can beat Switzerland at home, because I am sure that we will have better support than ever after this great start."
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