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Govedarica steps up for Serbia challenge

Coach Dejan Govedarica succeeded Tomislav Sivić midway through qualifying and, having led Serbia into the finals again, is plotting a course for Group B success in Romania.

Serbia are aiming for success in Romania
Serbia are aiming for success in Romania ©Meridian Match

Dejan Govedarica will have a much higher profile at the UEFA European Under-19 Championship than he might have expected at the start of the season, having succeeded Tomislav Sivić as Serbia coach midway through qualifying. The 41-year-old has plenty of international experience, however, having won 29 caps for Yugoslavia – he was in the squads at the 1998 FIFA World Cup and UEFA EURO 2000 – before working as assistant coach to Miroslav Djukić with the Serbia and Montenegro team that reached the 2007 U21 final. He will want to make that know-how count next week in Romania.

UEFA.com: You are alongside Spain, Belgium and Turkey in Group B – what do you make of the draw?

Dejan Govedarica: I think our group is much stronger than the other one. All we can say is there are three very difficult teams in our section who have their own styles and ideas. A draw is just luck, you have to accept the result and everything else is just theoretical for now. We'll only find out how hard it is during the competition.

UEFA.com: How do you expect to do at the finals?

Govedarica: The great thing is that we are in the best eight teams in Europe. I want to continue working with this team and to make them stronger and better. I do not want to speak about expectations; for now I'm concentrating on our preparation. But for sure the biggest pressure is on the first match against Turkey and we are ready for that.

UEFA.com: How do you look back on your qualifying campaign?

Govedarica: We performed really well in the qualifying round in Bulgaria. In the elite round in Norway this generation showed new qualities for Serbia, as they grew up after an opening defeat [by Wales]. That was a great tournament for us, we beat a strong host team and deservedly claimed a place at the finals.

UEFA.com: What would you say is your strongest weapon?

Govedarica: Our collective strength and the unity between all of us: players and technical staff. We live and work together and I know the qualities of each individual will be of the highest standard.

UEFA.com: You have been head coach for just a few months – how are you finding it?

Govedarica: I have lots of experience from my playing days, but a coaching job is totally different. Having said that, I've spent a few years working with young players and now I'm ready for this level. The Football Association of Serbia has given me a great challenge and I'm proud to have the chance to do this job.

UEFA.com: What do you think people can expect at these finals?

Govedarica: Certainly a good job from Romania, I'm sure our neighbours will be great hosts. There will also be some fantastic teams and future stars, and the supporters will enjoy seeing them.

UEFA.com: Serbia reached the semi-finals in 2006 and 2009 – what does this tournament mean for youth football in your country?

Govedarica: It is a great chance for our young players to gain knowledge and experience. Each international test is very important, even more so at a final tournament. In the last decade we've qualified regularly for youth competitions and continuity is very important in football.

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