Milovan Rajevac did not have a large international profile before taking over as coach of Ghana in 2008, but inside the world of football, he already had a reputation as a coach of much potential. His work inside of Serbia and elsewhere in Europe and Asia, and the experience picked up alongside the likes of Bora Milutinovic, Ljubko Petrovic and Milovan Djoric, stood him in good stead leading the team to the 2010 FIFA World Cup™. And the confidence in Rajevac will be fully realised as he takes Ghana’s Black Stars to Africa‘s first finals.
As a player, he was a defender at Red Star Belgrade, capped by the former Yugoslavia and in the squad that reached the 1979 UEFA Cup final. But as coach he has had to earn his spurs at more provincial destinations, even though he was taken on to the coaching staff at Red Star when he first hung up his playing boots. Qualifying two unheralded Serbian clubs, FC Vojvodina and FK Borak, to the UEFA Cup were the achievements that earned him the notoriety to seek a national team job and when Ghana were looking for a replacement for Claude le Roy before the start of the 2010 FIFA World Cup qualifying campaign, Rajevac proved their choice, even though the public had never heard of him before and were somewhat sceptical. Rajevac signed a two-year contract and immediately set about taking the Black Stars to their second successive FIFA World Cup finals appearance. Ghana had some tough games in their first round group but were surprisingly ruthless against much tougher opposition in their final group phase, thereby enhancing the reputation of the 56-year-old coach.
The Black Stars were the first of the African sides to get through the preliminaries and then went on to further verify their credentials by finishing second at the 2010 CAF Africa Cup of Nations in Angola in January. Reaching the final was an achievement that Rajevac can take the lion’s share of credit for, after he was handed a squad beset by injuries and without most of his key players. Ghana’s squad was largely inexperienced and Rajevac had to dip into the reservoir of talent that had won the FIFA U-20 World Cup in Egypt last October. He freely admits he now faces a pleasant selection headache ahead of the FIFA 2010 World Cup.
Rajevac, who has a quiet but steely air and still uses an interpreter to address press conferences, started as a coach at his home club FC Borak in 1989, then went to Sweden (FC Srbija), back to Serbia (FC Sloboda), then to Germany and onto China (Beijing Guoan FC). In 2004, he was an assistant to FIFA World Cup veteran Milutinovic at Al Saad in Qatar before going on his own at Vojvodina. When the club from Novi Sad finished an unexpected third in the Serbia Super League in 2007, Rajevac was named best coach by his contemporaries and the sporting press. He was born in Uzice in the west of Serbia but is now regarded by Ghanaians as one of their own.