Soccer-Filipovic still to decide Montenegro's first captain

BELGRADE, March 20 Tue Mar 20, 2007 12:24pm GMT

BELGRADE, March 20 (Reuters) - Montenegro coach Zoran Filipovic will wait until later in the week to choose a captain for the team's international debut against Hungary in a friendly on Saturday.

"This is a big issue as the captain has to be blessed with all the qualities of a leader," Filipovic told reporters. "It's not easy to elect one and the practice sessions over the next few days will sort this out."

An opinion poll has shown the vast majority of fans support Roma striker Mirko Vucinic, Montenegro's most prominent international player.

The other most likely candidates are Red Star Belgrade forward Igor Burzanovic and midfielder Simon Vucevic, who plays for Russian side Saturn Ramenksoye.

Montenegro, an Adriatic republic with a population of 650,000, was admitted as UEFA's 53rd full member at the body's congress in Duesseldorf on Jan. 26, following their political split with Serbia last year.

The Montenegrins are planning for the 2010 World Cup qualifying campaign which starts next year and the Hungary match in the capital Podgorica may provide some insight into their potential.

"We want to create a positive atmosphere and a national team cult," Filipovic said after naming his 22-man squad including eight home-based players.

"To do that, we must take into account their personalities as well as their football qualities. There are more candidates, especially among the exiles, but I couldn't invite all of them this time because that's about 40 players," he said.

The 54-year old, who coached Red Star Belgrade from 2001 to 2003, left out striker Andrija Delibasic, now playing at Portuguese side Beira Mar after spells with Mallorca, Benfica and AEK Athens.

"His reaction was very emotional and I understand he said he wouldn't play for Montenegro if he was dropped for our inaugural match. I hope he changes his mind because I am counting on him, but it's his decision," Filipovic said."