The last country to become a member of FIFA, Montenegro started off at the bottom of the FIFA/Coca-Cola World Ranking, but they have the players and a history - shared with Serbia - that suggests they will soon rise towards the middle rungs of the global ladder.The Montenegrins have yet to dispute a qualification match, but they did participate in the 2006 FIFA World Cup Germany™, as one half of the side known as Serbia and Montenegro.
Representing two republics that unified in 2003 after the break-up of the former Yugoslavia, Serbia and Montenegro did not take long to find its bearings. In qualifying for their first and only FIFA World Cup, they registered six wins and four draws to finish top of a tough group that also included Spain, Bosnia-Herzegovina and Belgium.
When Serbia and Montenegro then split, the Montenegro Football Association had to apply to various bodies for membership. They joined UEFA in January 2007 and FIFA in June of the same year, but were unable to take part in qualifiers for UEFA EURO 2008. Instead, the new nation will make its qualifying debut on the road to the 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa.
Former Serbia and Montenegro coach Dejan Savicevic took over as President of the new association and they contested their very first match against Hungary on 24 March 2007. The game ended in a 2-1 victory for the Balkan side, and Mirko Vucinic went down in history as Montenegro's first goal-scorer.
Coach Zoran Filipovic can turn to several experienced players, the vast majority of whom operate in foreign leagues. Branko Boskovic plays at Rapid Vienna, for example, while Slobodan Lakicevic turns out for Bayer Leverkusen and Stefan Nenadovic is at Inter Milan. Perrhaps fittingly for a country so young, only one player in the team is aged over 30 (Vlado Jeknic).
The challenge now for the young band of Montenegrins will be to make the same kind of name for themselves as their illustrious predecessors Branko Brnovic, Predrag Mijatovic, Ljubomir Radanovic, Branko Radovic and, of course, Dejan Savicevic, who scored 19 goals in his 56 appearances for Yugoslavia.