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Drulovic thanks Ireland for Euro 2000

LJUBINKO Drulovic is only starting out in his role as manager of Serbia's senior side when they face Ireland in Dublin tonight, but the 45-year-old has happy memories of playing against Ireland.

Way back in the qualifying campaign for Euro 2000, the then Porto player was a key figure for a Yugoslavia side who recovered from a 2-1 defeat to Mick McCarthy's Ireland in Dublin – Mark Kennedy scored the goal of his life that day – to qualify automatically for the finalsat Ireland's expense. Drulovic, newly installed as manager of the senior side after a disastrous World Cup campaign under Sinisa Mihajlovic, recalls the last-day scenario of that group as Ireland were all but on their way to Euro 2000 thanks to a l-0 lead away to Macedonia, only to concede a late goal and draw 1-1, allowing Yugoslavia to win the group and send Ireland into an ill-fated play-off with Turkey.

"I have great memories of that period, especially the last matches in the group," said Drulovic.

"There was a draw in Skopje that helped us qualify directly for Euro 2000 and I want to say thanks to the Republic of Ireland as they helped us qualify.

"Right now I am honoured to have the chance to be coach of my national team and I hope I can have the same success I had when I was head coach of our U19 team as we are U19 champions of Europe," he said.