Nickname: White Eagles
FIFA/Coca-Cola World Ranking: 15
Serbia will be making their first World Cup appearance as an independent nation. They, however, have a lot of experience on the World Cup stage, qualifying in 2006 as Serbia & Montenegro and making nine World Cup appearances as Yugoslavia. Despite their high standing in the FIFA/Coca-Cola World Rankings, many don’t expect them to progress out of the so-called “group of death.” They are joined in Group D by Germany (ranked 6th), Australia (ranked 20th) and Ghana (ranked 32nd). Germany is predicted to win this group and Ghana (inspired by playing on African soil) is expected to come out in second.
Serbia has already defied the experts, though, by automatically qualifying in a group that included France, Austria and Romania. They boast a very talented team that has a lot more experience than most people think and could be a dark horse pick.
The White Eagles are coached by Radomir Antic, who took over in 2008 after not coaching for four years. Antic has a lot of experience coaching top teams at the club level but very little in the international realm. However, that did not stop him from putting together a very consistent qualifying performance.
Serbia is led in defense by center back Nemanja Vidic, who is considered one of the best defenders in the world. He is a very powerful defender who is rarely beaten in the air and plays with intensity and pride.
The White Eagles are captained by Dejan Stankovic, an experienced attacking midfielder. He first played on the Yugoslavia national team, then on Serbia & Montenegro, and now he is the first-ever captain for Serbia.
Two other key players are forwards Marko Pantelic and Milan Jovanovic. During qualification, Jovanovic led Serbia in scoring with six goals while playing in only eight games. If Serbia is going to progress to the second round and or beyond, these two players really need to step up.