Serbia shortens World Cup squad to 24 players
Serbia coach Radomir Antic reduced his squad for next month's World Cup from 30 to 24 players on Friday, including four goalkeepers and only three domestic-based players.
Antic's list includes familiar names such as defenders Nemanja Vidic of Manchester United and Chelsea's Branislav Ivanovic and midfielders Dejan Stankovic of Inter Milan and CSKA Moscow's Milos Krasic.
The only listed player who has still not concluded his club season is captain Stankovic whose team will face Bayern Munich in the Champions League final on Saturday in Madrid.
"I wish him luck in the final," Antic said. "We have agreed that he'll get a day or two of additional rest."
Also on the list is Neven Subotic, who grew up in Salt Lake City and played for the United States at youth level.
The 21-year-old defender, who plays for Borussia Dortmund, was in the U.S. squad at the 2005 FIFA World Youth Championship for players under 17. He left the American set-up after he was passed over by coach Thomas Rongen for the 2007 FIFA Under-20 World Cup. Subotic made his debut for Serbia in March 2009.
Included on the list are Vojvodina Novi Sad goalkeeper Zeljko Brkic and striker Dragan Mrdja, along with Partizan Belgrade midfielder Radosav Petrovic — the only three players from the domestic league.
Struggle over choice of starter
The list has four goalkeepers — including rookie Andjelko Djurisic — because Serbia has been struggling with the choice of a starter, as Vladimir Stojkovic has not been playing regularly for Wigan Athletic in the English Premier League.
Antic said he'll file the final 23-man list on June 1, the FIFA deadline. Serbia will play Ghana, Germany and Australia in Group D at the tournament in South Africa.
Antic said that even without injured captain Michael Ballack, Germany will still be Serbia's toughest opponent in the group. The Chelsea midfielder has been ruled out of the World Cup with an ankle injury.
"It's really a shock when you remain without a captain at the last moment, but Germany has six million players," Antic said.
"They'll miss Ballack more as a leader than as a player. But I'm sure coach (Joachim) Loew will find an adequate replacement."
Serbia plays New Zealand on May 29 and Poland on June 2 during preparations in Austria, and Cameroon on June 5 in Belgrade in its final warmup game.
Goalkeepers: Vladimir Stojkovic (Wigan Athletic), Zeljko Brkic (Vojvodina Novi Sad), Bojan Isailovic (Zaglebie Lubin), Andjelko Djuricic (Leiria).
Defence: Branislav Ivanovic (Chelsea), Antonio Rukavina (1860 Munich), Nemanja Vidic (Manchester United), Neven Subotic (Borussia Dortmund), Aleksandar Lukovic (Udinese), Ivan Obradovic (Zaragoza), Aleksandar Kolarov (Lazio).
Midfielders: Dejan Stankovic (Inter Milan), Nenad Milijas (Wolverhampton Wanderers), Milos Krasic (CSKA Moscow), Milan Jovanovic (Standard Liege), Milos Ninkovic (Dynamo Kyiv), Zdravko Kuzmanovic (Stuttgart), Zoran Tosic (FC Cologne), Gojko Kacar (Hertha Berlin), Radosav Petrovic (Partizan Belgrade).
Forwards: Nikola Zigic (Valencia), Marko Pantelic (Ajax), Danko Lazovic (Zenit St. Petersburg), Dragan Mrdja (Vojvodina Novi Sad).