Nikolic Nets Serbia & Montenegro Post

08 June 2006

Miroslav Nikolic has been named as the new coach of Serbia & Montenegro's under-20 side.

The former head coach with Partizan and Red Star Belgrade and assistant national team coach will lead the Young Blues into this summer's European Championship in Turkey from July 14-23.

"It is a privilege to work with the next generation," Nikolic said after being introduced.

Nikolic Miroslav (Serbia and Montenegro)
Nikolic Miroslav coaches Hemofarm in Serbia and Montenegro.
"My love for the national team was never in doubt, as I was with the seniors during Eurobasket 2005 despite not being a member of the coaching staff.

"As the new coach of the under-20 side, I can't promise anything, but it is well known that a medal is something that is always expected from us."

Nikolic knows how to win, having collected national titles with Partizan and twice with Buducnost.

While working with the national team, he won two gold medals - first at the World Championships in Athens in 1995 and then at the European Championships in Barcelona in 1997.

He also added a silver medal from the 1996 Atlanta Olympics and a bronze from the European Championships in France in 1999.

Most recently, he has been working as the coach at Hemofarm, who he joined at the end of last season.

Nikolic's Young Blues squad gathered on Wednesday to begin their preparations for the European Championship. They will first travel to Dallas to compete in a warm-up competition.

Among the 19 players is just one member of the team that finished third in Russia two years ago - Tadija Dragicevic - but he is joined by several players who enjoyed success with the Under-18s, most notably Dragan Labovic.

Nikola Pekovic, Boris Bakic, Novica Velickovic and Dejan Borovnjak are to due to join up with the squad once they have completed their club commitments with Partizan.

Serbia & Montenegro have been drawn in Group A for July's tournament, and will face Latvia, Croatia and Belarus in Ismir. However, Nikolic is already looking beyond the group stage at the teams he believes will pose the greatest threat.

"We have a lot of talent, but many other national teams are progressing too," Nikolic said.

"First of all, I think Turkey are especially dangerous when playing in front of their own fans. Then there is Spain and France.

"But I believe in my players, mostly because they have already shown what they are capable of.

"Many of them are playing key roles for their clubs, and in training I'll do my best to give them some of my experience."

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