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Kovačević hopes for Serbia surprise

Serbia have a huge task against Portugal and Azerbaijan in Group D if they are to reach a second straight quarter-finals but Aca Kovačević says his side play best against strong teams.

Serbia have proved themselves at consecutive European finals
Serbia have proved themselves at consecutive European finals ©Drago Perko/futsal.si

Aca Kovačević is leading Serbia in their third straight UEFA European Futsal Championship finals in Croatia but the 2010 quarter-finalists have a mammoth task in Group D against Portugal and Azerbaijan. The 56-year-old speaks to UEFA.com about his ambitions and philosophy.

UEFA.com: What do you think of your group?

Aca Kovačević: We got an extremely tough group; we are up against two teams that played in the semi-finals of the previous European Championship. I hope we will be able to repeat the success we achieved in Hungary in 2010. I hope we can edge out one of favourites and get to the next round.

UEFA.com: What are your personal ambitions?

Kovačević: This is the third European Championship in a row that we've played in, and every qualification for the EURO is a great success. Every time we move to the next round it becomes an even greater success. I think that qualification for this EURO was an achievement, and we will try hard to get to the next round and be one of the top eight teams in Europe.

UEFA.com: What are the strengths of your team?

Kovačević: Unpredictability. They are all great players, mentally, and they play best against the best teams. We showed that in the two previous European Championships, where we caused several surprises.

UEFA.com: You won against Russia to top the group in 2010 but then lost 5-1 to Portugal in the quarter-finals...

Kovačević: After beating Russia, the players thought the success would continue. We are still not at the level where we can play difficult matches consecutively and keep winning, but they thought they would repeat that success against Portugal, and it was a debacle. But that is also an integral part of the sport. I hope we will manage to get to the second round again.

UEFA.com: This region has always been renowned for its technically-gifted footballers. Do you think that is the reason why you are good at futsal too?

Kovačević: That's true, but a lot of that has been lost; we have neglected that individual quality. I have tried my best to instil that in the national team. We have a couple of top players that can really change a match, but clubs in Serbia have a tendency to copy the style of game they see abroad, but our game is not like any other. Players from this part of the world have this style, this attacking verve, and that is what we all need to work on, as well as nurturing individual skills.