Last night my friend Claudiu and I took the kids to the Serbia versus Romania World Cup Qualifying match. Serbia was leading Group 7 in the European Group and needed a win to secure a spot in next summer’s World Cup soccer tourney in South Africa. They earned their spot with an emphatic 5 – 0 win over neighboring Romania.
My last experience at the stadium for the Austria qualifying match was horrible and I was apprehensive in taking three young boys (Owen, Sebey & Tudor) to the game. We were crushed in the entrance at that game, but last night’s game was very well organized. Stadium officials looked at the tickets at several checkpoints on the way to our seats. The seats were numbered and there was one seat for every person. There were also many police and ushers in the aisles to prevent overcrowding in the exits like last time.
Serbia obviously outplayed Romania and were back to their up tempo attacking football that has been lacking the past few matches. At the end of the match, there was a big celebration with fireworks and President Tadic in his luxury box opening up the champagne. Serbia qualified for the first time as an independent nation – in 2006 in Germany, they were still Serbia-Montenegro. It is interesting the there are several ex-Yugoslavia republics with chances of qualifying. Bosnia-Hercagovina will finish in second place in their group and will play off to get in. Slovenia also is in second place and could qualify automatically as group winner if Slovakia loses to Poland. Croatia is one point out of second but will probably not get into the playoff.
How will they do in South Africa? They have as good of chances as anyone else. They have one superstar, Manchester United defender Nemanja Vidic. They are solid in the midfield with InterMilan player and team captain, Dejan Stankovic. My favorite player on the team and possibly their best, is Milos Krasic. He plays for CSKA Moscow and really makes things happen for Serbia. He is fast and always moving forward and is always involved in Serbia’s goals. He is a player to watch out for as he is only 24. I can’t believe one of the bigger European clubs hasn’t picked him up yet. They also have the tallest soccer player at this level, 6’8” Nikola Zigic. He usually gets several good header opportunities in front of the goal every game. Their goalie is solid and if the role players can step it up, they have a shot at taking on the big boys. They need another big scorer as I don’t think Marko Pantelic, one of the strikers is up to World Cup level of play. He is always complaining on the field and doesn’t really do a whole lot in my opinion. They will always be in games with Vidic as center back.
The qualification means the World Cup will be much more interesting for me with Serbia and the USA in the tourney. I have photos on my Blackberry but haven’t yet figured out how to upload them to my computer. I will post some photos from the game when I get a chance.