herald

Wednesday 13 December 2017

Serbia plan to keep top spot

Serbia’s Nemanja Matic. Photo: Reuters
Serbia’s Nemanja Matic. Photo: Reuters

Serbia plan to have six points in the bag, and effectively a ticket booked for the World Cup finals in Russia, over the next few days, according to former Chelsea star Branislav Ivanovic.

Serbia, ahead of Ireland in the group table expect to beat Moldova, the bottom side in the Group D table, on Saturday but they also feel that this could be a very big week for their World Cup hopes.

"Subconsciously we are looking to get six points from the two games," says defender Ivanovic, who now plays his club football in Russia with Zenit since his exit from Chelsea.

"We are favourites at home to Moldova on Saturday, after that we go to Ireland, and we have to try and stay in first place.

"Every match in qualification is decisive, each point is the most important."

Serbia have played most of their recent qualifiers in the 45,000 capacity home of Red Star Belgrade, but problems with the pitch there has caused the Serbian FA to move Saturday's clash with Moldova to the nearby Partizan stadium.

"I heard that the Red Star stadium is in a very bad condition so it is good for us to play on a pitch that will help our game," says Manchester United man Nemanja Matic.

Ahead of their game at home to Austria, Wales are confident that they are still in contention.

"To get that draw in Serbia was a good result, it keeps us in it ahead of the final four games," Cardiff defender Jazz Richards said.

"The disappointment was that we were 1-0 ahead for a long time in the game.

"But we were missing a few key players in 28 degrees heat and the boys had not played for a few weeks because of the break at the end of the season.

"It was a game we definitely could not afford to lose and, before the campaign, I think Welsh fans would have taken a draw from that one."

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