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Serbia manager says he cannot “accept” losing to Ireland

“I can’t accept that they can play better than us.”

Serbia manager Dragan Stojkovic has said that he expects his team to beat the Republic of Ireland in their World Cup qualifier next week.

Ireland travel to Belgrade to play Serbia in their opening game of the 2022 World Cup qualification campaign on Wednesday night.

Serbia, ranked 30th in the world, are favourites for the match, while Ireland haven’t won a match since the end of 2019. Stephen Kenny’s team haven’t scored in over 11 hours of football.

Serbia manager: I expect us to beat Ireland.

Stojkovic, who was appointed as national team manager at the start of March, has said that he “can’t accept” that his side will be outplayed by Ireland.

“I have never watched as many games. There was a lot of analysis of both opponents and our own games,” the former Red Star Belgrade and Marseille midfielder said.

“I can’t say that everything was so bad before that nothing worked, but there are things that need to change.

“And that is, first of all, to find our identity, the style of play that we want to show, so that people can see what football in Serbia is.”

“This is a difficult group. I’m not so crazy as to say that our opponents have no clue – they do.

“Ireland can be uncomfortable to play against. But I can’t accept that they can play better than us.”

World Cup qualification campaign Group A.

Portugal are the top seeds in Group A. The European champions are expected to top the standings by the time the group comes to a conclusion in November.

That leaves Serbia, Ireland, Azerbaijan and Luxembourg fighting it out for a potential play-off place. In reality, however, it will arguably be between Ireland and Serbia for a play-off spot, so Kenny’s side must not lose on Wednesday night.

Serbia, like Ireland, failed to qualify for Euro 2020, crashing out after losing on penalties to Scotland in a play-off last November.

Read next – The Ireland team that needs to start the World Cup qualifier against Serbia.

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