Defeats in Wales and at home to Italy spelled the end of Serbia’s hopes of qualifying for the 2017 World Cup, and what would have been their first global finals. Undaunted, however, the SRLF general secretary, Slobodan Manak has already begun planning for their next tilt in 2021.
“Obviously we are very disappointed with the outcome of the World Cup qualifiers,” he said from his offices in Belgrade. “It has been a long and eventful journey over these last three years but we will take the positives out, learn the lessons and build on it all for the future.
“On behalf of the SRLF, I would like congratulate both Wales and Italy on their well-deserved wins. We were never closer to qualifying for the World Cup but, ultimately, we need to work harder, so Project WC2021 started for us as soon as the game against the Azzurri ended on Saturday.
“First we have to maintain the level of play from the last European Championship B, which we won,” he continued. “Competitive international experience is essential to developing our domestic players. Our plan is to promote to the senior side new young players from our U21 squad and possibly from the U18s too; players who should be in their prime by 2021.
“Another key element is to further develop the good relationship we have with our heritage players, and draft them in as often possible to play for Serbia. We are totally committed to our major goal of getting to the World Cup and we are as determined as ever to achieve that dream.”