Saturday, 17 November, 2018

Swiss coach unimpressed with celebrations in win over Serbia

Aleksandar Kolarov Swiss coach unimpressed with celebrations in win over Serbia
Domingo Copeland | 23 June, 2018, 04:25

Albania's national flag was at the center of Switzerland's 2-1 victory over Serbia on Friday at the World Cup.

The win puts Switzerland in pole position to make it out of a tough Group E that contains five-times winners Brazil but they were pushed all the way by the Serbs.

Boasting one of the oldest defences in the tournament, Serbia's rearguard and goalkeeper have collectively racked up almost 300 caps between them, as defensive tyro Nikola Milenkovic is the only player in the Serbian backline below the age of 30.

- This will be the first meeting between Serbia (as an independent nation) and Switzerland. Not between Swiss and Serbian fans, but between Albanian and Serbian supporters.

Xhaka and Shaqiri are among several members of the Swiss squad who are of Kosovar heritage, which added an extra dimension to the match.

The Kosovo War that ended in 1999 remains a contentious territory in both Serbia and Albania with the region now residing within Serbia, but having it's own Fifa-recognised team. "You should always show respect".

"We're in a situation where we need a win against Brazil on and we will focus and do whatever we can to try and win".

However, after a six-month loan spell with Fulham, the striker hit insatiable form towards the tail end of the season - and just in time for the World Cup - as his goals helped the west London club clinch promotion to the Premier League. The side feature the likes of Xerdan Shaqiri and Granit Xhaka in midfield which can trouble Serbian defensive guards.

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"I'm not into politics", Serbia's coach, Mladen Krstajic, told reporters before the game.

Switzerland coach Vladimir Petkovic hoped the gestures wouldn't detract from the team's performance.

Such displays have angered some Serbian fans, who often wear T-shirts bearing the map of Kosovo with the Serbian flag on it.

There was also controversy in the 65th minute when Mitrovic appeared to be held down as he went for a cross but the referee waved play on and there was no video review.

Serbia went in front in the fifth minute when Aleksandar Mitrovic, after missing a header moments earlier, rose above a Swiss defender and wonderfully guided a Dusan Tadic cross from the right past goalkeeper Yann Sommer and into the far corner.

Serbia were making all the forays in and around the offensive third. I understand them. I think it's normal, it's part of their life. "I hail from Zenica", Krstajic said.

Zenica is a town about 70 kilometers (45 miles) northwest of Sarajevo, Bosnia's capital.

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