Serbian players go through their warm-up routine during a training session
Sunday Jun 17, 2018. 13:30
Serbia will take on Costa Rica in their first 2018 FIFA World Cup Group E match at the Cosmos Arena in Samara, Russia on Sunday.
Kick-off is at 14h00 CAT.
The Eagles are set to make their return to the World Cup finals after missing the previous tournament which was hosted by Brazil.
They have competed under the various forms of Yugoslav national teams, where it achieved considerable success.The European side finished fourth at the 1930 and 1962 World Cups respectively.
They will look to Aleksandar Mitrovic against Costa Rica. The Newcastle United FC striker has hit the back of the net 16 times in 37 matches for the Eagles.
Promising midfielder Marko Grujic, who has established himself as a regular in Mladen Krstajic’s side, is looking forward to playing for his nation in the World Cup.
“There is a new coach (Krstajic) with new expectations… everything is new,” Grujic said ahead of the tournament.
“We haven’t played well during the past four to eight years and have skipped the major tournaments like the Euros and the World Cup, which is why people stopped believing in the country’s national team.
“But now I can feel that the feeling is coming back among the fans and the people of Serbia.”
Meanwhile, Costa Rica will make their second consecutive appearance in the World Cup having reached the quarterfinals in the previous competition.
The Ticos are the only national team in Central America to have played in four FIFA World Cup editions. They are also the most successful nation in Central America having won three CONCACAF Championships in 1963, 1969 and 1989.
Their star player is Bryan Ruiz, who plies his trade in Portugal for Sporting Lisbon. The Costa Rica captain and striker will be hoping to inspire his nation to victory against Serbia.
Costa Rica’s inspirational goalkeeper Keylor Navas has stressed the importance of defeating Serbia in their first game of the tournament.
“Well, in a World Cup every game is important,” Navas, who is on the books of Spanish giants Real Madrid, said.
“But it's true that the first two are decisive because they are what take you to the third game still alive.
“The first against Serbia we have to win no matter what. We will try.”
Senegalese referee Malang Diedhiou will be in charge of the game between Serbia and Costa Rica.
This will be the first ever meeting between the two nations.