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Petković the 'perfect solution'

Ilija Petković will lead Serbia and Montenegro in their remaining UEFA EURO 2004™ qualifiers.

Contract ready
The 57-year-old has signed a contract with the Serbia and Montenegro Football Association (FSSCG) which will run initally until the end of the UEFA EURO 2004™ qualifiers.

Small chance
However the position he inherits is unenviable; Serbia and Montenegro are fourth in Group 9 after a 2-1 defeat against Azerbaijan last month which prompted the resignation of previous coach Dejan Savićević. Seven points adrift of leaders Wales, the country's chances of reaching next year's finals in Portugal seem slim.

Fine pedigree
However new coach Petković has a fine pedigree. He previously led the national team July 2000 until February 2001, when it was still known as Yugoslavia, before accepting a job offer in China.

Servette success
Most of Petković's playing career was spent with OFK Beograd. He was capped 43 times for Yugoslavia and helped his country finish second in the UEFA European Championship in 1968. As a coach he took OFK to second place in the national championship in 1990 - the highest position in their history - and won the Swiss league title with Servette FC in 1994.

Hard work in store
“I am coming to help," Petković said today. "This is my wish and duty. I know what is awaiting me and above all it is hard work. We have decided to at first sign a contract which lasts until the end of the EURO qualifiers. At the end of this period we will sit down again and talk about a possible co-operation for another two years.

'Perfect solution'
Dragan Stojković, president of the Football Association of Serbia and Montenegro, said: "In Petković I see the perfect solution. He is a hard worker and knows the FA and the team very well. He accepted the job in a very difficult period for us. I don't expect him to perform miracles and suddenly take us to Portugal, but to restore the atmosphere, introduce a good system of work and prepare the team for the 2006 [FIFA] World Cup qualifiers."

Milutinovic refusal
Petković was chosen for the job after Bora Milutinovic, who has guided five different sides at World Cup tournaments, turned down the job.

Further appointments
In addition, the FSSCG have also have appointed three new head coaches at youth level. Miodrag Martac replaces Slobodan Pavkovic at Under 19 level, Martac's role as coach of the Under-17 side will be taken by Dragan Vujovic, and the Under-15 side will now be coached by Momcilo Vujacic.