• World Cup qualifiers

Montenegro boss: 'Long ball' England are scared

ESPN staff
March 25, 2013
Branko Brnovic claims England think they've already qualified for the 2014 World Cup © PA Photos

Montenegro manager Branko Brnovic has hit out at England, labelling them a route-one team who believe their place in next year's World Cup is already guaranteed.

Nobody was spared during a heated press conference as Brnovic took aim at Three Lions players, the Football Association and former internationals ahead of the crucial World Cup qualifier between the two sides on Tuesday.

Brnovic, whose team lead England by two points in Group H, has been particularly infuriated by criticism from opposition players about the state of the pitch at Montenegro's Podgorica City Stadium.

"I read in the press today statements from some English players about the way the pitch will look. As far as I know, [it is] the English [who] have always favoured long passes,'' Brnovic said. "This supports the idea that they're more scared of this game than we are.''

Amid reports that the FA has arranged friendlies against Germany and Argentina for November, on the basis that England will top the group rather than having to face a play-off at that time, Brnovic lashed out at what he perceives to be complacency on the side of the Three Lions.

"Perhaps they organised the friendlies before the start of the qualifiers,'' he said. "Perhaps after the game tomorrow they will have to cancel them. I would say that could be their undoing tomorrow.

"We are aware that we are playing a very strong national team. But we are playing in our own stadium, we have very good players and England will really have to toil to beat us.''

The last time England visited Montenegro during a Euro 2012 qualifier, Wayne Rooney was sent off for kicking Miodrag Dzudovic, earning him a two-match suspension that marred England's campaign in Poland and Ukraine.

Former England captain Alan Shearer said in the Sun on Monday that Montenegro could resort to dirty tactics in order to wind up the Manchester United striker on Tuesday. Brnovic, however, feels the criticism is unjust.

"As far as I know, Rooney was the one who attacked our player last time, not vice-versa,'' he said. "I know that our strikers Jovetic and Vucinic always suffer strong kicks, but they never complain. English legends [like Shearer] are already trying to resort to excuses for what happens tomorrow.''

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