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Serbia Appoint Aleksandar Kolarov As Their New Captain

Serbia have decided to strip Branislav Ivanovic from the captaincy ahead of the upcoming international friendlies against Morocco and Nigeria. Aleksandar Kolarov is now expected to lead the national side with Nemanja Matic appointed as the vice-captain. Speaking in a news conference, Serbian head coach Mladen Krstajić said: “Kolarov, the new captain, and (Nemanja) Matic, his deputy, have the power to follow in Ivanovic’s footsteps. We have made a decision which remains an internal matter but I want to make it clear there is no misunderstanding with Ivanovic who remains part of the team.”

The decision to strip Ivanovic from the leadership role does not come as a surprise, given the 34-year-old had shown the lack of pace during the World Cup qualification phase which was criticised by the fans and pundits alike.

Despite this, Krstajic has clarified that there has been not rift with the long-standing defender, who has exactly 100 caps to his name. He added: “We have made a decision which remains an internal matter but I want to make it clear there is no misunderstanding with Ivanovic who remains part of the team.”

Ivanovic is currently just one of the three survivors from the 2010 World Cup, and his experience is likely to be valuable during the summer, though he has had to give up on the captaincy after six years. Serbia possess a number of match-winners in their ranks, most notably in the form of Manchester United’s Matic, but they have not quite showcased their performances on the global stage.

Unlike some of their European rivals, Serbia have been pitted in a rather tough group involving Brazil, Costa Rica and Switzerland, and progressing towards the knockouts would be a huge result in itself for them, given they only claimed one victory in their previous appearance at the tournament in 2010.