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Tuesday, June 27, 2006
Petkovic waves goodbye to S&M role

The Serbia and Montenegro Football Federation have decided not to renew Ilija Petkovic's contract as head coach of the national team.

Petkovic presided over a disappointing World Cup campaign which saw his team crash out at the group stages after losing all three games.

Speaking to the press for the first time since his squad returned from Germany last Thursday, Petkovic blamed the lack of quality in the playing squad rather than any tactical inadequacies on his part for his team's early exit.

'Only history will decide how I did in leading our national team over the past three years,' Petkovic said.

'We had quite a few problems before the World Cup, such as injuries to crucial players, but we lacked quality on the field, individually, not strategically.'

Serbia and Montenegro were humbled 6-0 by Argentina in their second Group C game but Petkovic refused to accept responsibility for the defeat.

'During three years of my work, I looked for the best (players) our country has,' he said.

'I've been looking for players capable of defeating Argentina but we don't have such players. Or maybe they exist, but I didn't succeed in finding them.

'If my tactics were the only thing necessary for victories, I think we would have won all the matches.

'But tactics are just thoughts which must be transformed onto the field by the quality of the players and you either have that quality, or you don't have it.'

Petkovic refused to answer questions regarding the decision to select his son, Dusan, for the tournament following the withdrawal of Lecce striker Mirko Vucinic.

Petkovic junior eventually pulled out of the squad following a media outcry before the tournament, but his father would not comment on the matter, preferring instead to say: 'I must congratulate all of you journalists for your work. We were good associates during these three years and now, at the end, you have your impressions, I have my own.

'But, at least it was interesting. You can't say it wasn't interesting.'

The 2006 World Cup was the last tournament Serbia and Montenegro will play as a single nation after Montenegro claimed independence more than a month ago.

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