Serbia has competed for the Cup once before as an independent nation, in 2010. Though they missed qualification for the past 3 major contests, the Eagles flew through these qualifiers in what could easily be termed “cruse control”. The side actually managed to clinch the group winner’s title, but coach Slavoljub Muslin was sacked. The first choice for his replacement was Dragan Stojkovic, but this was impossible due to his long-term contract with Chinese team Guangzhou R&F. Mladen Krstajić has stepped in temporarily, but whether his appointment will be made permanent remains to be seen.
Krstajić has been taking care of the Eagles since 2016, in his first coaching position. The former defender played for the team himself between 1999 and 2008, and was part of the “Famous Four” defence at the qualifiers for the 2006 edition of the world’s greatest Football tournament in Germany, playing for Serbia and Montenegro and conceding just one goal over the entire qualifying round.
From the first staging of the world’s most thrilling Football tournament in 1930 to when it was held in 1990, Serbia was part of Yugoslavia’s Socialist Federal Republic (SFR) and competed this way. From 1994 to 2006 the Serbs played with Montenegro, and have since entered as an independent country. They have not made it to the knockout stages at all since the SFR was dissolved, and under that regime they finished fourth in 1930 and 1962. The most recent qualification before 2018 was 2006 when, playing with Montenegro, the side did not make it through the group stage.
Puma has designed the home and away kits for the Orlovi, with an understated look in both cases. Each features the new rounded neck from the apparel designer, with the home jerseys coloured red with white edging, and their away counterparts coloured the other way around. The Puma cat and Serbia Football Association logos are also in, respectively, white and red. A red, blue and white stripe, symbolising the country’s flag, also runs down the centre of the away jersey’s front.