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Wed Apr 23 12:26:51 SAST 2014

Vlad V faces test against African talent

MARK GLEESON | 08 August, 2012 06:510 Comments
VLADIMIR VERMEZOVIC

VLADIMIR Vermezovic faces the first crisis at his new job, back in his native Serbia, as Partizan Belgrade face possible elimination from the European Champions League.

Having taken over from former Chelsea manager Avram Grant, Vermezovic is already feeling the pressure as the club seeks to advance to the lucrative group phase of the world's top club competition.

Partizan easily overcame opposition from Malta in their first preliminary round tie, but last week slipped up away in Cyprus in the next round as they seek to advance through the early knockout phase.

AEL Limassol, packed with African talent, will be defending a 1-0 lead from the first leg when they meet Partizan in the Serbian capital tonight.

In the past, Cypriot sides rarely offered a testing challenge to top clubs in European competitions, but that has changed dramatically in recent years. Last season, a Cypriot side broke new ground after going all the way to the quarterfinals of the European Champions League.

Vermezovic, fired by Kaizer Chiefs in April, said that if his players repeat the mistakes of the first leg, "they will make problems for themselves".

"For some of our players it was the first international test of their career and they learnt a lesson. As we need a two-goal winning margin now, we have to be wise, cautious but also aggressive," he said.

Partizan won the Serbian title last season but Israeli-born Grant left immediately at the end of the season. Vermezovic was hired as a replacement, weeks after Chiefs gave him the boot. It is Vlad's second spell in charge of the club where he played for most of his career.

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