Serbia's class of 1994 froze in the spotlight as they played host to the 2011 Under-17 final tournament, but coach Ljubinko Drulović expects better of them in Lithuania.
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Serbia's class of 1994 froze a little in the spotlight in 2011, finishing bottom of their section as they played host to the UEFA European Under-17 Championship. However, with former Yugoslavia winger Ljubinko Drulović in charge, they will look to prove they are worthy of a place in this final tournament after coming through the elite round by the narrowest of margins.
A 4-0 win against Slovakia, a 1-0 defeat by Switzerland and a 0-0 draw with the Republic of Ireland left the Group 2 hosts as one of three sides level on four points in the final reckoning; they made it through on goal difference. "We were lucky not to have to play the qualifying round but it was hard to keep the team competitive without 'real' matches," admitted Drulović. "In the end, our qualification was a bit lucky but I am sure that, with all of the team's qualities, we deserved it."
The aim now is to push on. "We want to continue our good record at U19 tournaments," the coach said. "In the past four years, we have played in the semi-finals twice and we want to be at that top level again. I am optimistic. We will work hard and, in what's their second European final tournament, I expect this generation to show their class."
Qualifying round: bye
Key players: Aleksandar Mitrović (forward, FK Partizan), Uroš Djurdjević (forward, FK Rad), Marko Pavlovski (midfielder, OFK Beograd) and Vukan Savićević (midfielder, FK Crvena zvezda)
Coach: Ljubinko Drulović
Date of birth: 11/04/1968
Playing career: FK Zlatar, FK Sloga Kraljevo, FK Sloboda Point, FK Rad, Gil Vicente FC, FC Porto, SL Benfica, FK Partizan, FC Penafiel
Coaching career: GD Tourizense, FK Banat Zrenjanin, NK Drava, CD Primeiro do Agosto, Serbia U19
A winger, Drulović made 38 appearances for one of the greatest Yugoslavia sides in that nation's history, playing at the 1998 FIFA World Cup and UEFA EURO 2000 final rounds. Quick and skilful, the left-sided player spent the best years of his career in Portugal, winning five Liga titles and four Portuguese Cups during a successful spell with Porto from 1994–2001.
Having ended his playing days with Penafiel, he started out as a coach with modest Tourizense, taking up further posts in Serbia, Slovenia and Angola before being tasked with leading Serbia's U19 squad in 2012.
Qualifying top scorer
2: Uroš Djurdjević
UEFA European Under-19 Championship best
Semi-finals 2006 (as Serbia and Montenegro), 2009, 2011
Honours in UEFA youth competitions
UEFA European Under-16 Championship
Runners-up 1990 (as Yugoslavia)
International Youth Tournament (U18)
Winners 1951, 1979 (as Yugoslavia)
Runners-up 1952, 1962 (as Yugoslavia)
FIFA U-20 World Cup
Winners 1987 (as Yugoslavia)