FK Partizan claimed their second consecutive Serbian Superliga title under Slaviša Jokanović on Sunday, following a 4-1 victory against OFK Beograd, with the coach saying: "We deserve all the praise we are getting."
The Belgrade club took the 21st title in their history with five rounds of the season remaining, having opened up an 18-point gap over second-placed FK Vojvodina. While the Novi Sad-based side provided more meaningful competition than Partizan's traditional rivals – third-placed FK Crvena Zvezda – none could challenge the black-and-white team who topped the table from the first round.
The triumphant Jokanović, 40, who was appointed coach in December 2007, said: "We deserve all the praise we are getting. I believe in my work and in my players. We always want to play our own game, to show our class, and we have managed that – the results we have had are a logical product of that. Now, we want to finish the race in style, to win the cup and use the summer to prepare for the UEFA Champions League."
Sure enough, Partizan could land a second successive double, being due to take on FK Banat Zrenjanin in the Serbian Cup semi-finals on 6 May, with the winners to face either FK Sevojno or FK Crvena Zvezda in the final on 20 May. The latter will be eager to salvage something from one of the toughest campaigns in their history – they are 20 points adrift of Partizan in the league.
Partizan's statistics say everything about their season. They are Superliga top scorers with 52 goals, boast Serbia's leading striker in 18-goal Lamine Diarra, have won more games (21) and lost fewer (2) than anyone else, and have conceded just ten times. The win against OFK also saw their Montenegrin goalkeeper Mladen Bozović enter the history books for lasting a record 916 minutes without shipping a league goal.
'We have proof'
Partizan may have sold young midfielders Zoran Tošić and Adem Ljajić to Manchester United FC in December, but a new generation of youngsters have filled the gaps, complemented by foreign stars Diarra, Almani Moreira and Juca. Captain Nenad Djordjević concluded: "We always knew we were the best in this country, but now we have proof. We were brilliant and I believe the Partizan era in Serbian football will continue."
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