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Sunday, 11 June, 2000, 14:48 GMT 15:48 UK
Mihajlovic to the rescue
Yugoslavia have had a terrible run in their preparations for the European Championships and with several injuries the mood in the camp is anything but confident.
The Yugoslav press have subsequently turned on the squad following poor performances on the Asian tour, but there is a potential saviour.
Sinisa Mihajlovic almost single-handedly steered Yugoslavia to Euro 2000 and the Lazio defender is ready to take charge of his troubled team when they face Slovenia on Tuesday.
He has great determination and energy but the main element of his armoury is dead-ball kicks.
He said: "Free-kick goals count like any other, with the difference that they can be scored even if a team is not playing well.
"And I'm ready to do it," he added confidently.
Another Mihajlovic strength is his ability to perform in the big games.
His goal against the Czech Republic in the World Cup qualifiers for the 1998 World Cup was crucial, and he also scored a late winning goal when Yugoslavia were struggling against Iran in the actual competition in France.
Another magnificent free-kick goal in the recent Chelsea-Lazio Champions League clash was one of the goals of last season.
Mihajlovic said: "I like free-kicks and I shoot them from as far as 35 yards.
"I like to shoot with a swerve into both sides of the net. I often try scoring directly from the corners."
During a recent practice session in the training camp in Edegem, Mihajlovic fired ten consecutive free-kicks into upper corners of the goal, scoring each time.
"If Mihajlovic aims well and gets the ball over the wall, it is tough to stop it," goalkeeper Ivica Kralj said.
"No one wants to stand in the wall during practices when Mihajlovic shoots," he added.
"His ball has amazing power and bend. He's undoubtedly the best free-kick expert in the world at this moment."
However, after the exertions in Asia, Mihajlovic is not afraid to criticise.
"The coach and his aides took us to a gruelling Asian tour instead of resting the players on the eve of the Euro.
"I'm psychologically and physically drained after playing 63 games for Lazio this season."
Despite a recent injury concern, Mihajlovic appears to be fully fit and ready to help the Yugoslav cause.
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