Stankovic makes retirement plans after Serbia flop

Reuters, Wednesday 12 Oct 2011

Dejan Stankovic will play one more match for Serbia and then retire from internationals after Tuesday’s 1-0 defeat to Slovenia eliminated the side from Euro 2012 qualification, the Inter Milan midfielder has said

Dejan Stankovic

Serbia captain Stankovic, who equalled Savo Milosevic’s record of 102 international appearances on Tuesday, confirmed he would hang up his boots after a the next friendly international that would make him Serbia’s most-capped player.

“This was my last competitive match for my country, I will play one more game and that will be my farewell to the national team,” Stankovic told Belgrade media after Serbia ended their qualifying campaign on a sour note.

The Serbian’s needed a win to leapfrog Estonia into the runners-up spot in Group C, behind winners Italy, and clinch a playoff berth, but fell to an audacious 40 metre goal while centre back Nemanja Vidic also missed a penalty.

“Slovenia, who had only pride to play for, produced an outstanding performance while we had dropped points in places we shouldn’t have before we came to what was always going to be a difficult away match in Maribor,” Stankovic added.

“It is a painful end because we had the quality to reach next year’s finals in Poland and Ukraine and we really should have done better.”

Coach Vladimir Petrovic, who took over from Radomir Antic after a 1-1 home draw with Slovenia early in the campaign, is likely to follow Stankovic through the exit door after failing with a cagey and ineffective 4-5-1 formation.

“They don’t need to sack me because my contract expires in two months’ time and it’s up to the FA whether they want to extend it,” Petrovic said when asked if he would step down.

“I would field the same team again because several players looked very flat after Friday’s strength-sapping 1-1 draw with Italy, we were below par because Slovenia played well.

“We took risks in the closing stages when we threw on more forwards because we had to, but we had ran out of steam.

“I can only salute my team’s commitment because they gave everything they had but it just wasn’t meant to be,” he said.

The Serbian press, however, had little sympathy for either Petrovic or the players.

“Apocalypse”, screamed daily Sportski Zurnal across the front page, while The Press said the Serbian team had “lost their dignity with an unacceptable performance which warrants resignations among the staff”.

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