January 21, 2007 / 11:47 AM / 12 years ago

Soccer-Former Yugoslavia defender Djukic named Partizan coach

BELGRADE, Jan 9 (Reuters) - Partizan Belgrade named former Yugoslavia defender Miroslav Djukic as coach on Tuesday. Djukic, who has been in charge of Serbia’s under-21 team, took over from Miodrag Jesic who parted company with the Serbian first division club by mutual consent following a poor first half of the season.

“We are convinced Djukic is the right man for the job, capable of taking Partizan back to winning ways and bringing more silverware to the trophy cabinet,” president Nenad Popovic told a news conference.

“His arrival will be a great incentive to Partizan’s young players to improve and we hope to keep him here for a very long time. Our split with Jesic was a dignified one with no hard feelings on either side and we wish him all the best.”

Djukic, who won 49 caps for Yugoslavia, was shortlisted to succeed Jesic after guiding Serbia’s under-21s to the European Championship finals in Netherlands in June.

TALENTED GENERATION

“I am proud to be here and ready for the challenge,” said Djukic. “I know what the expectations are and I have every confidence in myself and the players because I know many of them from the under-21s.”

“This is a talented generation capable of winning many more honours for the club and what they need is a boost in confidence after dips in form young players are prone to.

“That is my first priority, to reassure them they are good enough to challenge for trophies and make an impact in Europe.”

Partizan, league winners 19 times, are fourth in the 12-team table at the mid-season winter break, 14 points behind champions and bitter foes Red Star Belgrade.

The club have endured a torrid 18 months with most fans boycotting their matches after surrendering domestic supremacy to Red Star and elimination from the UEFA Cup group stage in December.

Popovic, named president last month in a wholesale sweep in which the entire board stepped down, said he hoped the supporters would get behind the club when the season resumed on Feb. 24.

“We need our fans back because we are not the same without them. I believe that signing Djukic, a man devoted to his cause, will persuade them to return,” he said.

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