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Serbia's Damnjanović sanguine despite early exit

Serbia's Women's Under-19 adventure may have come to an abrupt end but that has not stopped Jovana Damjanović reflecting on her experience with warm affection.

Jovana Damjanović after her interview with UEFA.com
Jovana Damjanović after her interview with UEFA.com ©Sportsfile

Serbia arrived in Antalya with the intention of springing a surprise. Their shortcomings were soon apparent, however, as Spain and Sweden exploited the debutants' fragility. For Jovana Damnjanović, the tournament has been an educational chapter in her career and a springboard for future success.

"Of course we are disappointed with the result. I think we had enough chances to win but Sweden showed their tournament experience," she told UEFA.com. "They took advantage of our mistakes and punished us. Even though we had more possession we didn't get the result our efforts deserved. But that's football."

In the face of adversity, Damnjanović shines with sagacity and all the allure of a mature individual. Such values can be partly attributed to coach Milan Rastavac, whose wise words have encouraged the midfielder to treasure the experience. "After the game he told us not to be sad about the result," Damnjanović said. "He told us the main thing was to be here and to hold our heads up high.

"We have played against the best players. We have encountered a new culture which has been really interesting for us. We've had a really nice time and we are determined to make next year's tournament. This has been a huge experience for me and my team-mates."

Intrinsically gifted, Damnjanović stumbled upon football by chance in an intensely competitive and somewhat daunting environment. "I was hanging out with my male friends at school and they were training," she said. "So I went along to watch them and they were missing a player so the coach asked if I wanted to play. My mother was originally against me playing what she thought was a man's game but I was really persistent."

Now an ever-present in Serbia's adroit attack, Damnjanović's talents are complimented by a familiar face; her cousin Jelena Čanković. "We have an understanding of each other's game. I like working with her the most," she said. "She is a playmaker and knows when I want the ball to feet or slightly ahead of me. We never have any disagreements."

The 19-year-old is also engrossed by ambition and dreams of lifting European club football's most coveted prize. "I want to finish school in a year, before moving to either Germany or France. In Serbia, the women’s game is still growing," she said. "My goal is to win the Champions League and play for the A team in a major tournament."

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