Jovanovic expects tough test

BY foxsports • October 10, 2011

Serbia striker Milan Jovanovic believes Slovenia will do everything in their power to stop his side earning a Euro 2012 play-off place due to a deep-rooted rivalry.

Serbia can leapfrog Estonia and snatch second place in Group C if they win in Maribor, with Slovenia already eliminated from the qualification race.

Estonia moved into second behind Italy, who have already qualified, after a 2-1 win over Northern Ireland and have now finished their bid to qualify with 16 points.

Serbia are only one point adrift after a hard-fought 1-1 draw against Italy last week but a superior goal difference means only a win will be enough to progress.

"We expect a much more difficult match because they have the incentive of stopping us from qualifying," Jovanovic told

"Our relations in recent history suggest that they will do their best to prevent us from winning and not go into the play-offs.

"We missed a great chance against Italy, but we secretly held in reserve that we have this opportunity to Slovenia by three points. I am convinced that we have enough for what awaits us."

Italy will play Northern Ireland in Pescara in the other Group C clash, with Northern Ireland coach Nigel Worthington announcing he will step down after the match having failed to achieve qualification.

Northern Ireland have only won two of their nine games and are currently a disappointing second-bottom above the Faroe Islands, who have completed all their games.

"Up until three games to go we were in a very good position but, through no one's fault, sometimes the game of football throws you a raw hand," Worthington said.

"There were genuine mistakes in the last three games, something that was not there in the previous matches.

"I probably half-thought about (stepping down) after Estonia away, but that wasn't something I would show to the press because I wanted to fulfil my promise to the players, to the board and to the supporters.

"I feel the time has come after four and a half years, which have been fantastic for me as an individual.

"Sometimes when you try to get blood out of a stone there's only so much you can get. I think I've gone as far as I can with the group we've got."

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