Montenegro coach Branko Brnović said the 1-0 FIFA World Cup Group H win in Ukraine "is just one step in a long journey", but scorer Dejan Damjanović hopes his goal "can take us all the way to Brazil".
Damjanović struck in first-half added time in Kyiv and a shocked Ukraine could not find a way past a packed Montenegrin defence. It could have been more had Andriy Pyatov not saved Stevan Jovetićꞌs 80th-minute penalty, but unbeaten Montenegro are now level with Group H leaders England – at least till the latter play Poland later today – with Ukraine fifth, five points off the top.
"This is a big win for us, against a big team from a big country," striker Damjanović said. "We are 100 times smaller than Ukraine, but football is such a wonderful game which gives everyone an equal chance over 90 minutes. We are a very good squad, with lots of talent, and I think we deserved this win. I am happy my goal was decisive and I hope this goal can take us all the way to Brazil."
However the 31-year-old, who plays his club football for FC Seoul in South Korea's K-League, added: "It is too early to think that far ahead. We are at the beginning, but we are sportsmen and it's normal to dream about something as big as a World Cup, and to believe in dreams."
Damjanović can keep thinking big thanks to the defensive solidity that made his goal count. Montenegro's tactical mastermind Brnović said: "We were very well organised and focused at the back, and we knew we would have space for counterattacks. Our plan was to block Ukraine down the flanks, especially the dangerous Yevhen Konoplyanka, and I think my players did a great job. That was the key to our success. We showed great team spirit, which is very important in such a tense game."
His side have seven points from three matches, having drawn at home to Poland and beaten San Marino, but the coach wanted even more. "I must confess that I planned to get maximum points from our first four fixtures, but with this win our situation in the group is very, very good," Brnović went on. "Now it is important to stay calm and keep our feet on the ground. This victory will be worth almost nothing if we don't beat San Marino in November and Moldova in March. After these two matches, we can start to speak about something big."
Montenegro were in a similar position in UEFA EURO 2012 qualifying with ten points from four games yet were pipped to first place by England and lost a play-off to the Czech Republic. "A good start is very important, but this is just a step in a long journey. However, if we beat San Marino in November, we will be undefeated in eight matches in 2012," Brnović, 45, said. "So we have continuity and every right to be optimistic before these crucial matches."
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