Serbia played their maiden international, independently, on 16 August 2006, winning 3-1 away to Czech Republic. They did, however, former part of two now disbanded teams: Yugoslavia and Serbia and Montenegro.
The former participated at nine FIFA World Cups™ between 1930 and 2002, and finished runners-up at the UEFA European Championship twice. Then, at Germany 2006, Serbia and Montenegro lost all three matches in a competitive group to fall at the first hurdle.
While Yugoslavia and Serbia and Montengro wore blue shirts, Serbia adopted a red jersey and the nickname Beli Orlovi (White Eagles).
The road to South Africa
When the draw for the first phase of European Zone qualifying was made, the consensus was that Austria, Romania and Serbia were competing for second place behind France. However, although Les Bleus edged the Beli Orlovi 2-1 in Saint-Denis in their second outing, Radomir Antic's team won their next five preliminaries to establish a four-point lead atop of the section. They retained it by drawing 1-1 at home to the French. That result left Serbia needing victory from their penultimate qualifier with Romania to make sure of a place at South Africa 2010, and they achieved it in emphatic fashion with a 5-0 success in Belgrade.
The star players
Widely regarded as one of the best centre-backs in the world, Manchester United's Nemanja Vidic is a rock at the heart of the Serbian backline. Fierce in the tackle and strong in the air, the 28-year-old was named the 2008/09 English Premier League's player of the season. Multifunctional midfielder Dejan Stankovic has played international football since 1998 and now captains his country, while Marko Pantelic and Milan Jovanovic carry a threat in attack.
Radomir Antic's playing career included an impressive eight-year spell with Partizan, and stints in Turkey, Spain and England, but it was at the coaching reins that he truly began to excel. He led Zaragoza, Real Madrid and Oviedo prior to landing at Atletico Madrid, who he improbably guided to a La Liga/Copa del Rey double in his first season in 1995/96. Antic had three spells at the Atletico controls, but had been out of the game for four years when he was appointed Serbia coach in 2008. However, thanks to his tactical expertise and ability to elicit the best from his charges, the Serbians charged through to South Africa 2010.
Previous FIFA World Cups
* Serbia will be appearing at the FIFA World Cup independently for the first time in South Africa.
* They formed part of the Yugoslavia side that appeared at nine editions of the competition, and the Serbia and Montenegro team that competed at Germany 2006.
What they said
"We're thrilled to have booked a place in South Africa. We've proven ourselves to be a strong team. I am sure that we will play the best we can and not let our fans down at the World Cup," Serbia forward Nikola Zigic.