Serbia ‘not afraid’ of Brazil ahead of World Cup clash

Serbia's forward Aleksandar Mitrovic will spearhead their attack against BrazilReuters

Serbia coach Dragan Stojkovic insisted Wednesday his players are “afraid of nobody” as they prepare to begin their World Cup campaign against the favourites Brazil.

“Brazil is a great team. For me, it’s a golden generation at the moment and we expect of course a difficult game but we must focus on our football and try to be good opponents,” Stojkovic told reporters ahead of their Group G opener at Doha’s Lusail Stadium on Thursday.

Serbia failed to make it out of their group four years ago after losing 2-0 to Brazil in their final match.

Serbia's coach Dragan Stojkovic leads a training session of his team at Al Arabi SC in Doha on 23 November, 2022

This time, however, they are potentially dangerous dark horses in Qatar after topping their qualifying group ahead of Portugal and most recently winning their UEFA Nations League section.

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“We are afraid of nobody in the world, not even Brazil. We don’t need to be afraid,” insisted Stojkovic, who was appointed in February last year to succeed Ljubisa Tumbakovic after Serbia failed to qualify for Euro 2020.

Ranked 21st in the FIFA rankings, Serbia do however come into their opening match in Group G with concerns surrounding the fitness of a key player in the shape of Juventus winger Filip Kostic.

Serbia's forward Dusan Vlahovic takes part in a training session

“It is a huge question mark as to whether he is going to join us because he got an injury in his last game with Juventus,” said Stojkovic before adding that striker Aleksandar Mitrovic is expected to play.

The 28-year-old has been in excellent form for Fulham and has scored nine times in 12 Premier League matches this season.

However, he did not play in his club’s last two games due to an ankle injury.

“Mitrovic in the past four or five days has been working with the team and the good news is that he feels no pain in the area where he had the injury,” added the coach.