Montenegro can overcome a 2-0
first-leg deficit against the Czech Republic in the second leg
of their Euro 2012 play-off on Tuesday and qualify for next
year's finals, coach Branko Brnovic said, admitting that some
people might dismiss his confidence as "crazy."
The 44-year-old former Yugoslavia midfielder, who took over
at Montenegro in September and sealed their play-off berth with a
2-2 home draw against England, believed his team could turn the
tie on its head with a similar gritty performance.
"We were able to erase a 2-0 deficit against England in just
45 minutes so I am sure we can do it over 90 minutes against the
Czechs, who are not in the same quality bracket with the
English," Brnovic told Montenegrin media.
"I am confident we can score two or three goals and my only
worry is that we might concede one while taking risks and
leaving gaps at the back.
"Some might call me crazy but I am optimistic that the
Czechs are staring at a 3-0 defeat in the return leg because I
know my players will leave it all on the pitch, roared on by our
passionate fans in the cauldron of Podgorica stadium," he said.
Montenegro, a tiny Adriatic republic with a population of
just 650,000, will have to dig deep into their slim resources if
they are to end the Czech Republic's proud record of qualifying
for every European Championships since they split from Slovakia
With left-back Milan Jovanovic suspended and central
defender Marko Basa unlikely to shake off a niggling shoulder
injury, Brnovic will have to reshuffle his starting line-up from
a squad lacking depth in every department.
Montenegro's limited options played a big part in their
first-leg defeat, when Brnovic made a substitution on the hour
which backfired and put the visitors on the back foot for the
rest of the match.
"Dejan Damjanovic was one of our best players until he made
way for Vladimir Bozovic, but he was often left outnumbered on
the left flank and the idea was to add some substance on that
side of the pitch," Brnovic said.
"It didn't work and I must take sole responsibility for the
defeat, although we were unlucky not to score when it was 0-0
and especially so to concede the second goal in injury-time."
Having dominated the contest in Prague, the Czechs will head
into the return leg hoping that goalkeeper Petr Cech, who wore a
specially-designed mask to protect a broken nose, can emulate
his first-leg performance.
The towering Chelsea keeper seemed unconcerned about his
injury and pulled off a superb save from Simon Vukcevic shortly
before Vaclav Pilar fired the Czechs ahead.
Czech hopes of advancing to next year's tournament in Poland
and Ukraine will also rest on the good form of versatile Arsenal
midfielder Tomas Rosicky, who pulled the strings in midfield and
gave his markers a roasting.
"We are in a very good situation now and it would be a real
pity to not capitalise on this result and not qualify," said
Czech coach Michal Bilek.
Montenegro: Mladen Bozovic; Savo Pavicevic, Stefan Savic,
Miodrag Dzudovic, Vladimir Bozovic; Simon Vukcevic, Nikola
Drincic, Elsad Zverotic, Dejan Damjanovic; Stevan Jovetic, Mirko
Czech Republic: Petr Cech; Theodor Gebreselassie, Tomas
Sivok, Michal Kadlec, Daniel Pudil; Jan Rezek, Jaroslav Plasil,
Petr Jiracek, Tomas Rosicky, Vaclav Pilar; Tomas Pekhart.
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