When UEFA decided its four lowest-ranked associations at junior level would fight it out for a place at the Youth Olympics, it was music to the ears of Montenegrins, whose U-15 boys travelled to Nyon in optimistic mood. They duly overwhelmed San Marino 4-0, playing some engrossing pass-and-move football in the process, to book a meeting with Albania for the right to represent Europe in Singapore.

Montenegro were the marginal favourites but that changed when, early in the game, their goalkeeper extinguished an attack by handling the ball outside his penalty area. He was consequently sent off. Albania began to enjoy the majority of the possession, but, thanks to some resolute defending, hard work and clinical finishing, Montenegro eked out a 2-1 victory – their wild celebrations at the final whistle were indicative of how much qualification meant to nation who only became a FIFA member association in 2007.

Montenegro have never, given their infancy, never played in the finals of a FIFA competition, but they have made considerable progress on the FIFA/Coca-Cola World Ranking: from 199th in June 2007 they now rest 72nd.

Now the onus will be on their U-17s to provide further indication that a bright future ensues and, with hosts Singapore and Zimbabwe for company in Group D, there is high hope they can seize one of its two tickets to the semi-finals. And while that remains the collective goal, the Montenegrin starlets will be eager to hint they have the individual talent to emulate the likes of Mirko Vucinic and Stevan Jovetic.