England v Montenegro: Visiting coach tempers his words and his optimism ahead of Wembley showdown

 

The Montenegro coach, Branko Brnovic, resisted the temptation to tear into England for a second time as he contemplates the monumental task of leading his patched-up team to victory at Wembley and possibly taking over top spot in World Cup qualifying Group H.

ENGLAND v MONTENEGRO: Click here to follow the latest news and score - LIVE

Prior to the reverse fixture in March, Brnovic aimed a furious tirade at England, branding Roy Hodgson's side arrogant long-ball merchants who were riddled with weaknesses.

But the 46-year-old was completely unrecognisable from that cocksure figure. He refused to be drawn on the England goalkeeper Joe Hart's recent poor form and the idea of winding up Wayne Rooney, who received a two-match suspension for kicking the Montenegro defender Miodrag Dzudovic in 2011.

"I don't want to talk about any English players," said a frustrated Brnovic after being hit with questions about the home side. "I will concentrate on my team."

That team is nowhere near as strong as the one that gave England a real fright in March, when Montenegro put in a very impressive second-half performance to earn a 1-1 draw that could well have ended up being a win.

Their captain, Mirko Vucinic, the Lille centre-back Marko Basa and midfielder Miodrag Pekovic are all injured while Dzudovic may also miss out. "I'm sorry we are not complete. I was planning to play one great match," Brnovic said.

The coach cut a downbeat figure throughout his short media conference at Wembley – but there was a burst of laughter when he duped a reporter into believing Vucinic would start, only to reveal afterwards that it was a joke.

There was another bit of comedy when Brnovic was asked about the possibility that his team could freeze in front of an almost sold-out 90,000 crowd at Wembley. "It's OK, we brought some jackets with us," he said with a smile. "Every single player is looking forward to it. You cannot play every day at Wembley. This is an important match. Even if we don't succeed we did a great job in these qualifiers and this team has a bright future."

One crumb of comfort for Brnovic is that Manchester City's Stevan Jovetic is available despite recent fitness worries. The striker seemed more upbeat about Montenegro's chances of claiming what would be a historic win for the Balkan nation, who did not play their first recognised international match until 2007.

"It's true we're missing important players and we know England are strong; we've played them three times and drawn three times. But I'm sure we can still play a good game. We will play our best and try to win and I think it will be perfect."

As for his City team-mate Hart, Jovetic still rates the stopper highly despite recent errors. "Joe Hart is one of the five best goalkeepers in the world," said Jovetic. "He's a good guy. He's not perfect, he can make mistakes but I haven't spoken to my team-mates about that. We don't think he has problems."

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

Giants Club: After wholesale butchery of Idi Amin's regime, Uganda’s giants flourish once again

Uganda's giants are flourishing once again

After the wholesale butchery of Idi Amin's regime, elephant populations are finally recovering
The London: After 350 years, the riddle of Britain's exploding fleet is finally solved

After 350 years, the riddle of Britain's exploding fleet is finally solved

Archaeologists will recover a crucial item from the wreck of the London which could help shed more light on what happened in the vessel's final seconds
Airbus has patented a jet that could fly from London to New York in one hour

Airbus has patented a jet that could fly from London to New York in one hour

The invention involves turbojets and ramjets - a type of jet engine - and a rocket motor
10 best sun creams for kids

10 best sun creams for kids

Protect delicate and sensitive skin with products specially formulated for little ones
Turkey-Kurdish conflict: Obama's deal with Ankara is a betrayal of Syrian Kurds and may not even weaken Isis

US betrayal of old ally brings limited reward

Since the accord, the Turks have only waged war on Kurds while no US bomber has used Incirlik airbase, says Patrick Cockburn
VIPs gather for opening of second Suez Canal - but doubts linger over security

'A gift from Egypt to the rest of the world'

VIPs gather for opening of second Suez Canal - but is it really needed?
Jeremy Corbyn dresses abysmally. That's a great thing because it's genuine

Jeremy Corbyn dresses abysmally. That's a great thing because it's genuine

Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, applauds a man who clearly has more important things on his mind
The male menopause and intimations of mortality

Aches, pains and an inkling of mortality

So the male menopause is real, they say, but what would the Victorians, 'old' at 30, think of that, asks DJ Taylor
Man Booker Prize 2015: Anna Smaill - How can I possibly be on the list with these writers I have idolised?

'How can I possibly be on the list with these writers I have idolised?'

Man Booker Prize nominee Anna Smaill on the rise of Kiwi lit
Bettany Hughes interview: The historian on how Socrates would have solved Greece's problems

Bettany Hughes interview

The historian on how Socrates would have solved Greece's problems
Art of the state: Pyongyang propaganda posters to be exhibited in China

Art of the state

Pyongyang propaganda posters to be exhibited in China
Mildreds and Vanilla Black have given vegetarian food a makeover in new cookbooks

Vegetarian food gets a makeover

Long-time vegetarian Holly Williams tries to recreate some of the inventive recipes in Mildreds and Vanilla Black's new cookbooks
The haunting of Shirley Jackson: Was the gothic author's life really as bleak as her fiction?

The haunting of Shirley Jackson

Was the gothic author's life really as bleak as her fiction?
Bill Granger recipes: Heading off on holiday? Try out our chef's seaside-inspired dishes...

Bill Granger's seaside-inspired recipes

These dishes are so easy to make, our chef is almost embarrassed to call them recipes
Ashes 2015: Tourists are limp, leaderless and distinctly UnAustralian

Tourists are limp, leaderless and distinctly UnAustralian

A woefully out-of-form Michael Clarke embodies his team's fragile Ashes campaign, says Michael Calvin