FIFA World Cup Group D focus: Serbia
Official FFA Preview of Australia's Group D opponents: Serbia and how they got there.
Serbia competed for the first time in history under their own name. Previous campaigns had seen them as Serbia & Montenegro or as a part of a Yugoslavia side before that.
When the group was chosen, it looked like a tough ask for them to finish second, let alone gain automatic qualification, with sides such as France, Austria and Romania lining up against them.
Despite this, they thrived in the group and eventually stormed through the group leaving France to take the play-off spot...
Serbia 2-0 Faroe Islands Serbia made their competitive debut (without Montenegro) in unremarkable fashion with a 2-0 win over North Sea minnows Faroe Islands. The win was in contrast to France who lost 3-1 to Austria and all of a sudden the group looked more open.
France 2-1 Serbia It looked as if France had resumed normal service as goals from Henry and Anelka were enough to see of a lively looking Serbia side in Paris. Ivanovic grabbed a deserved goal for Serbia but the eventual loss made many think that the best Serbia could hope for would be second place and a play-off.
Serbia 3-0 Lithuania Serbia made amends for the defeat in France by scoring a resounding victory against Lithuania, thanks to goals from Ivanovic, Zigic and Krasic.
Austria 1-3 Serbia This result was massive for the away team. Billed as the fight for the play-off spot, Serbia announced their aspirations for real and with France being held by Romania, they were now in pole position for getting automatic qualification. Goals from Krasic, Jovanovic and Obradovic were enough to see the classy Serbians take three points.
Romania 2-3 Serbia An important result that stated Serbia-s intentions of putting in a serious bid for the top spot. Ivanovic was again on the score sheet and the three points kept Serbia in the hunt.
Serbia 1-0 Austria The two sides fought out a tight game that could-ve gone either way. A seventh minute Milijas penalty was enough to give Serbia the edge and see them not only looking at second place. With France-s average campaign continuing, Serbia now only had to avoid defeat to France to see them through to Africa.
Faroe Islands 0-2 Serbia Serbia went to the small island nation in full confidence and came away with a 2-0 win thanks to goals from the prolific Jovanovic and Subotic. Their minds were probably looking to the next international window though, where a home tie with France awaited.
Serbia 1-1 France Four points clear of France at the top, a draw here would all but see Serbia through. Even a loss would still see them in charge of their own destiny. An impressive display saw them hold the former World Cup holders and in truth they were unlucky not to take all three points. The Serbian fans now realised that one more win would see them into the World Cup.
Serbia 5-0 Romania The group stage was effectively over after Serbia hammered a poor Romanian side who had a qualifying campaign to forget. Serbia played champagne football and in front of 40,000 fans Jovanovic scored a hat-trick and sent the Serbian fans into delirium. What a campaign, the group was all sewn up with one game to spare!
Lithuania 2-1 Serbia It-s often the case that sides just don-t really have the will to win when they-ve already qualified and this is what happened here, as well as in a few other qualifying groups where sides were there in body but not in spirit. Never the less, Serbia were already there and France were left to the play-offs and that infamous hand ball…
Serbia are sure to be a tough test for the Qantas Socceroos. Topping France in a qualifying group is not easily done and they managed to do this with a game to spare.
As Yugoslavia, they were a force to be reckoned with and reached World Cup semi finals twice, the quarters four times and the European Championship final twice.