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Page last updated at 11:22 GMT, Tuesday, 25 May 2010 12:22 UK

My First World Cup: Nenad Milijas


Milijas heads to South Africa having helped keep Wolves in the Premiership

By Ben Sutherland

Serbia midfielder Nenad Milijas has told the BBC it is very important for him to help his team-mates erase the memory of their dreadful performance at the 2006 World Cup in Germany, by engineering a much improved display at South Africa.

Last time out Serbia lost all three games, including a 6-0 drubbing from Argentina and a 3-2 defeat to Ivory Coast after going 2-0 up.

Milijas, who plays his club football for Wolverhampton Wanderers, said the players were very keen to make it up to the fans.

"Of course that is important for us," he told BBC World Service.

"Not for us players and our coach; it is more important for the fans. We think about it. I wasn't there for the last World Cup, but many players were there, and I understand that the players now want to play better, to do better."

Multi-continental draw

The central midfielder said that the 2006 team had suffered problems with players not being fully fit.

Things had not looked good for Serbia - then competing alongside Montenegro, which has since become entirely independent - from the start, when they were drawn in the "group of death" with Argentina, the Netherlands and Ivory Coast.

BBC My First World Cup XI
11 players making their debut on the World Cup stage at South Africa 2010

But the atmosphere in the squad was seriously soured when, in response to an injury to Mirko Vicinic, coach Ilija Petkovic called his own son Dusan - who had played no part in the qualifying campaign - into the squad.

The younger Petkovic later withdrew, but the team was never able to recover any spirit and finished last of all the 32 teams who made the Germany finals.

"I think they were unlucky last time - this time luck will look at us," Milijas said.

This time around, Serbia are drawn against Germany, Australia and Ghana, and Milijas - who made his international debut in 2008 - believes they will at least make it out of Group D.

"I think we have a great team this year, great players, a great bench - many, many players who can play in the national team," he said.

"I think we can pass the group - I think we have to aim for that. That is what we have to do, and what we must do.

"After that we will see. But every game after that - like every other team - we will try to win."

Milijas, who lists Dragan Stojkovic and Dejan Savicevic as his national heroes, said he was immensely proud to be representing his country at the pinnacle of international football.

"I will give everything from me for my country - in everything, not just in football," he explained.

"When you have that shirt, it is the best thing that can happen to a player - that you have the chance to represent your country, to represent your people. That's what I know. It is pressure, but when the game starts the pressure becomes something better for me."

And he added he was expecting South Africa to put on a high quality tournament.

"I think that people there expect that, for many many years," he said.

"They now get the World Cup and they will try to give their best, to put on a great show.

"All fans from all over the world are excited to go there, because it's Africa. It's different for everybody. Even if there weren't many people there, and I think it will be great."

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see also
Chelsea pair discarded by Serbia
21 May 10 |  World Cup 2010
Petkovic pulls out of World Cup
06 Jun 06 |  Serbia & Montenegro
Petkovic gives son Serbia call-up
30 May 06 |  Serbia & Montenegro
Guide to the teams at South Africa 2010
05 Dec 09 |  World Cup 2010
World Cup venues
05 Dec 09 |  World Cup 2010

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