Despite torrential rain and flooding in Serbia that has seen all football matches postponed and shortages of electricity, the hosts and Ukraine are preparing for the opening game in the 2014-15 European B tournament this Saturday in Nis.
Serbia warmed up with the now traditional Serbian Origin Cup which saw Belgrade City defeat Serbia Country 26-14, their first win in three seasons.
National head coach Marko Janković commented, “We again have the honour to open the competition, which is always tough task. We know from personal experience that the political situation in Ukraine will be an additional motivating factor to our opponents, while we had some difficulties in our preparations in the last couple of days due to heavy rains and historic-scale floods here.
“However, we look forward the game in Niš, where we expect big support from the local crowd. Aside from producing good results and success in the competition, the national team takes on the role to present our sport to an audience all over the country. Our strategic choice is to play more international games outside Belgrade and this is the first step.”
Ukranian head coach Gennadiy Veprik is equally looking forward to the clash. “The team is preparing for the game according to the plan without any problems. Some of our players- Veprik and Soshenko got injured at the Paris tournament but fortunately we’ve got enough talented players to substitute them. We do realize that the game will be very hard but we are ready for it.”
Serbian 20-man squad (debutants in italics)
Marko Ćuk, Stefan Nedeljković, Dalibor Samardžić, Stevan Stevanović, Ivan Tulić, Dalibor Vukanović (Dorćol), Marko Milenković, Lazar Živković (Niš), Stefan Ilić, Džavid Jašari, Dušan Milutinović (Partizan), Miloš Djurković, Žarko Kovačević (Radnički NP), Vladislav Dedić, Vojislav Dedić, Vladica Nikolić, Miodrag Tomić, Miloš Zogović (Red Star), Miloš Ćalić (Tašmajdan Tigers), Andrej Mora (Voždovac)
Ukraine 20-man squad
Mykhaylo Chernyak, Volodymyr Mazepa, Danylo Pozhidaev, Sergiy Soshchenko, Igor Urkin (Donetsk Titans), Andrii Bashevskyi, Vitalii Felko, Mykola Getmanov, Pavlo Kardakov, Volodomyr Karpenko, Sergii Kravchenko, Artur Martyrosyan, Volodymyr Mashkin, Maksym Miroshnichenko, Oleksandr Kozak, Dmitro Semerenko, Sergii Shevtsov, Oleksandr Skorbach, Mykhailo Troyan, Bogdan Vepryk (Legion XIII, Kharkiv)