S&B coach dreams of creating a World Cup shock

May 19, 2006

BELGRADE, May 19 (Reuters) - Serbia and Montenegro coach Ilija Petkovic is dreaming that an unfancied team like his will surprise everyone by winning the World Cup.

"It would be nice for a change if a team that has never won the World Cup before does it this time. It would be stunning and a joy for football fans around the world," he told reporters on Friday.

"Naturally, I hope we can be that mouse but it will be a tall order. Most experts and pundits say we will do well to get past the group stage and I can't disagree.

"I can't promise we will win the World Cup but I also can't stand here and say that we won't and don't want to. I have always been optimistic in life and we are going to Germany in high spirits with a positive approach."

Serbia and Montenegro are in difficult Group C with Argentina, the Netherlands and Ivory Coast.

Full back Goran Gavrancic said the team was confident of going far in the competition -- if they reached the knockout stage.

"We are in the toughest group and the basic goal is to get through it," he said.

"But if we can do that and put two of our rivals on an early flight home, we will be very confident that even a semi-final berth is realistic."

Gavrancic said the team's first priority was to get a result in their opening match against the Netherlands in Leipzig on June 11 which central defender Nemanja Vidic will miss through suspension.

"His absence will be a massive blow and it will shift the team's balance but the most important thing is to avoid injuries in the run-up.

"Keeping a clean sheet against the Dutch without him will be very difficult though."

Serbia and Montenegro let in only one goal in 10 unbeaten matches in qualifying and Gavrancic said they would be just as determined to make it difficult for the opposition to score in Germany.

"We will play our hearts out for the fans and the country, we will be a tough nut to crack and that's all I can promise."