Montenegro
© AFP

Qualification history
Montenegro are one of FIFA’s newest members, having joined in 2007 following their severing of ties with Serbia, and have therefore only taken part in one qualifying phase – for the 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa™ – so far in their short existence. While their maiden campaign did not exactly make headlines around Europe, the Montenegrins certainly did not look out of place. Although they only managed one victory, finishing fifth in a six-team group, signs of future solidity were to be found in the draws they secured, notably twice against Republic of Ireland, who went on to face France in the play-off round.

The current crop
Like the powerful Yugoslavia teams that came before them, Montenegro are a very fit, compact, hard-working side, and are highly disciplined at the back. Many of the team’s key players ply their trade in the Russian league. Currently involved in just their second-ever UEFA EURO qualifying campaign, the Balkan nation has surprised many onlookers by consistently vying with England for top spot in the group. Their remarkable progress is a result of the country’s football authorities investing in the development of the game, as well as of the team acquiring greater international experience.

The key players
Forward and captain Mirko Vucinic, who had the honour of scoring the first goal in Montenegro’s history – a penalty against Hungary – is one of the team’s most high-profile players.

Coach: Branko Brnovic
Best performance in a FIFA competition: None
Former stars: Predrag Mijatovic, Ljubomir Radanovic, Dejan Savicevic