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The Serbian youth (U-20) national team won the USA after penalty shoot-outs qualified for the semi-finals of the U-20 World Cup
The youth (U20) national team of Serbia won their way through to the semi-finals of the 20th U-20 World Cup in New Zealand, as it was more successful in taking the penalty shoot-outs, beating the USA by 6:5. In the regular course and after the extra-time the game ended in a tie – 0:0.
In the fight for the finals, on 17 June 2015 Serbia will meet Mali, which eliminated Germany, also after penalty shoot-outs.
At the Northern Harbor stadium in Oakland, at a chilly and rainy weather before about 10,000 spectators the match was officiated by Arturo Diaz (Portugal).
The penalty-takers for Serbia: Zdjelar, Babić, Grujić, Živković, Antonov and Maksimović. Mandić, Rajković and Veljković were unsuccessful in penalty-taking.
The shooters for the USA were Payne, Ariola, Hindman, Delgado and Zelalem. The shoots of Rubin, Sonora, Carter and Rekueh did not hit the score.
Yellow cards: Antonov, Mandić (Serbia), Rekueho (USA)
In its group Serbia lost by Uruguay by 1:0, and won Mali and Mexico by 2:0 each. In the round of 16 Serbia won Hungary by 2:1 after extra-time.
Serbia: Rajković - Stevanović, Veljković, Babić, Antonov - Zdjelar, Maksimović, Ser. Milinković (from 111’ Grujić) - Živković, Gaćinović (from 68’ Šaponjić) - Mandić. Captain: Predrag Rajković, Head-Coach: Veljko Paunović
USA: Steffen - Payne, Miazga, Carter, Requejo - Hyndman, Delgado, Thompson (from 103’ Sonora) - Ariola, Zelalem - Rubin, Head-Coach: Tab Ramos
The youth team of Serbia placed among the top four nations in the World, as in the match against the United States they endured a lot of effort, and at the end, when penalty, proved to have a strong mental power.
The both rivals have played very actively, with strategic caution, because the stakes were high. The US controlled the game for a good part of the match, but the young White Eagles had several chances to win the match during the regular playing time. They managed well during the extra-time, in which it was obvious that they were left without enough strength.
The ’hero’ of our team was Nemanja Maksimović, who in the ninth penalty shoot-out series managed to outsmart the American goalkeeper Steffen, after the Serbian goalkeeper Predrag Rajković managed to defend the shoot of Requejo. Rajković could easily have been the tragic figure of our team despite the fact he has defended several hard shoots, because in the sixth series of penalties did not manage to score, although the American player Sonora previously missed the penalty. Steffen defended his shoot.
The Serbian Head-coach Veljko Paunović previously had to make a change in the team in comparison to the match vs. Hungary. Stevanović took the role of the right wing, and replaced Gajić as that standard first team player got a red card.
Stevanović, Veljković, Babić and Antonov were the defenders. In maneuvers in the centerfield there were Zdjelar, Maksimović and Sergej Milinković, on the right side there was Živković, and Gaćinović on the left side. Mandić was the only attacker.
The US head-coach Tab Ramos had applied almost identical tactics. He has made the same disposition of his players on the field of play as our Paunović. In such a game, in the first half, the USA played with a bit more risk, while our young football players strived to get to the opponent’s goal in carefully planned actions, as in previous matches.
In the end the Serbia football players managed better in this hard, exhausting match, at a rainy autumn-like weather, and deservedly entered the semi-finals. To enter the finals, Serbia will fight against Mali, who our youngsters won in the group phase of the competition.
24 countries took part in the competition in New Zealand, which in the first phase were seeded in six groups with four teams each.