Milovan Djorić is well aware of his task when he coaches Serbia on home soil in next month's UEFA European Under-17 Championship, saying: "Every host always has a duty to do something big in the competition."
The tournament from 3 to 15 May will be the first U17 finals to be staged by Serbia, who will be joined by the Czech Republic, Denmark, France, Germany, the Netherlands, Romania and holders England in the draw at 18.00CET on Tuesday at Belgrade City Hall.
Former FK Crvena Zvezda defender Djorić previously coached the Yugoslavia senior and U21 teams and after a spell as Football Association of Serbia (FSS) academy director he took over, at the end of 2009, the squad that was to play in these U17 finals.
"We have been together more than a year and have formed one big family," Djorić said. "During that time, we have played more than 20 friendly games and entered four international tournaments."
Their form has been encouraging. Notably, they won a tournament last summer on home soil against France, Greece and Russia, and finished second in the prestigious Minsk tournament in January. Most recently they secured a 2-1 friendly victory over the Czech Republic prior to that team's elite round success. Consequently, hopes are high.
"Our primary target is qualification for the FIFA U-17 World Cup [by finishing in the top three of their group], followed by making the semi-finals in Serbia," said Djorić, who has also coached in El Salvador and China. "I believe we are ready for that, but we must prove it on the pitch. It depends on so many things; the draw is one of them and we will know much more after 5 April."
Among his side's key men are OFK Beograd midfielder Marko Pavlovski, who captains the squad and has been compared to Xavi Hernández, and speedy FK Partizan right winger Lazar Marković – blessed with a powerful shot and the experience of last year's U17 qualifying campaign.
Djorić believes his charges have the technical ability that Serbia is well-known for, and added: "The best defence starts from attack and we always keep that in mind."
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