Serbia fires national team coach Mladen Krstajic
BELGRADE, Serbia (AP) — Serbia’s soccer federation on Thursday fired national team coach Mladen Krstajic after a humiliating loss against Ukraine in a European Championship qualifier.
Ukraine moved to the top of Group B by routing Serbia 5-0 at home last week.
Krstajic, a former national team defender and Bundesliga veteran, was hired ahead of the World Cup in Russia last year despite having never held a previous coaching position. Serbia failed to qualify from the group stage at the tournament.
Naming Krstajic to the post came as a surprise after former coach Slavoljub Muslin was sacked despite leading Serbia to its first major tournament in eight years.
The federation did not immediately name a successor to Krstajic, but Belgrade media said it is likely to be former Montenegro coach Ljubisa Tumbakovic.
Tumbakovic was fired by Montenegro after he boycotted the European Championship qualifier against Kosovo last week for what Serbian media said were “patriotic” reasons.
Tumbakovic is from Serbia, where state-controlled media had launched a campaign against Serbs playing in games with Kosovo, which declared its independence from Serbia in 2008. Serbia does not recognize Kosovo’s statehood.