Montenegro coach Branko Brnovic mocks England before qualifier
PODGORICA, Montenegro -- Montenegro coach Branko Brnovic taunted England on Monday by claiming they were already making excuses for a possible defeat by the tiny Adriatic nation ahead of their World Cup Group H qualifier on Tuesday.
England are two points behind Montenegro with half of the group fixtures remaining after dropping points in a home draw against Ukraine in September and their 1-1 result in Poland in October.
"I think the English are already making excuses for a possible defeat. I don't know how else to explain the fact that they are unhappy with everything," Brnovic told a news conference on Monday.
Brnovic was responding to questions about whether his side would provoke striker Wayne Rooney, who was sent off the last time England played in Montenegro and has been shown red for similar displays of petulance.
"As far as I can remember, it was Rooney who got sent off the last time the two teams played here, for hitting one of our players," he said.
Rooney kicked Miodrag Dzudovic and was shown a straight red card after 74 minutes, his second in an England shirt.
"Our strikers (Stevan) Jovetic and (Mirko) Vucinic take a lot of beating in every game and never complain," Brnovic added in reference to his top-rated forwards, who play at Fiorentina and Juventus respectively.
England hope to play friendlies in November against Germany and Argentina at the same time as the playoffs to reach the World Cup next year, which would be something they will regret according to Brnovic.
"I imagine they scheduled these games before the qualifying campaign because they were confident they would win the group, but they might have to cancel those friendlies after tomorrow's match," he said.
Should England finish as one of the eight best runners-up they would have to contest a two-legged playoff to secure a berth in Brazil.
England goalkeeper Joe Hart said the side had learned from their mistakes in their last away match against Montenegro, when needing a draw to qualify for Euro 2012 the visitors let slip a 2-0 lead and had to endure a nervy finale.
"We've got to perform. Maybe we could be accused of taking our foot off the pedal as we let a 2-0 advantage slip away last time against them when we needed just a point," Hart told his club Manchester City's website (www.mcfc.co.uk)
"That is not going to be the case this time. We've got a job on our hands in an intimidating arena, but we've definitely got the capabilities. We go there with the intention of doing well against a good side."
City team mate James Milner, rested for the 8-0 drubbing of San Marino on Friday, said the intimidating atmosphere was something that spurred him on.
"These are the sort of games you enjoy playing in, with the crowd on your back, and when you are getting a lot of stick," said the midfielder.
© 2014 Reuters Limited. All rights reserved.