Yugoslavia were certainly among the stronger third seeds in the UEFA zone, and it had been the other Group 5 teams’ bad fortune that Ivica Osim’s troops had ended up there. They had featured in two international tournaments at the start of the 80s, although they had ultimately failed to deliever much in either of the ’82 World Cup or the ’84 European Championships, failing to get past the group stages on either occasion.
In qualification ahead of the 1988 European Championships, Yugoslavia had shown a great deal of promise, but they’d finished well beaten by England. It had been Osim’s first qualification in charge of the national team, and the now 47 year old former Željezničar manager and player for his country had gained valuable experience. He had a crop of delightfully talented players at his disposal, and so Yugoslavia surely would be there or thereabouts come late 1989.
With restrictions on Yugoslav players somewhat more lenient than that of other Eastern European countries, quite a few of them had already well prior to this qualification sealed moves abroad. And not infrequently would their players seek towards France, where for example seasoned twins Zoran (defender) and Zlatko (forward) Vujović were plying their trade with Bordeaux, although they were about to be separated, with Zlatko moving to the south coast to play the 1988/89 season for Cannes. The pair had been instrumental in Bordeaux’ double-winning 1986/87 season.
Other players abroad were defender Marko Elsner with Nice, midfielder Milan Janković at Anderlecht in Belgium, having been transferred from Real Madrid, experienced campaigners Faruk Hadžibegić and Mehmed Baždarević at Sochaux, as well as Austria based goalkeeper Tomislav Ivković. It also remained to be seen whether the super experienced Safet Sušić, aged 33 by the time the qualification started, would play his part. The Paris Saint-Germain midfielder had not featured for the national team since the 1984 European Championships.
Domestically, Red Star of Belgrade were reigning champions. Among their players was special midfield man Dragan Stojković, a 23 year old who had featured already during the 1984 European Championships, and who carried a certain influence on the team already at this relatively early stage in his career. Other fine players were spread around the country, too, and it remained to be seen who would blossom on the big stage.
Under the tutorship of Mirko Jozić, Yugoslavia had won the 1987 Youth World Championship in Chile. There had been some truly talented players among the 18 they’d brought to South America, where midfielders Zvonimir Boban and Robert Prosinečki, as well as forwards Predrag Mijatović and Davor Šuker, had perhaps been the most eye-catching. Even if they all featured for their respective first teams domestically, it could be too early for them to already progress through to the full international squad.
Yugoslavia would be one of five UEFA representants during the 1988 Olympic football tournament in South Korea, and they would go there with a relatively sound squad, “Piksi” Stojković being their headliner. However, at full international level, Osim’s first couple of tasks ahead of the qualification were negotiating friendlies away to Switzerland and Spain respectively.
24.08.1988 Switzerland 0-2 Yugoslavia
Goals: Mihajlović, Đukić
Line-up: Leković – Stanojković, Hadžibegić, Spasić, Brnović (Barbarić h-t) – Stojković, Katanec, Baždarević (c), Tuce – Mihajlović (Savevski 82), Đukić (Milošević 86)
14.09.1988 Spain 1-2 Yugoslavia
Goals: Baždarević, Cvetković
Line-up (3-6-1): Ivković – Elsner, Hadžibegić, Jurić – Milojević (Krivokapić 84), Radanović, Baždarević, Janković, Mlinarić, Zl. Vujović (c) – Cvetković
19.10.1988, Hampden Park (Glasgow)
Scotland 1-1 Yugoslavia
Line-up (5-3-2): Ivković – Stanojković, Radanović, Jozić, Hadžibegić, Spasić (Brnović 83) – Stojković, Baždarević, Katanec – Cvetković (Šabanadžović 90), Zl. Vujović (c)
Yugoslavia manage to return back home with a point after a hardfought battle with a sound Scottish team. They had to come from a goal down to rescue a draw; Katanec had poked home on the near post following a corner. Osim had lined his team up in a 5-3-2, and for longer spells Yugoslavia had dominated through the strength of their midfield, in which Stojković at times excelled. They needed a firm intervention from Ivković late on to prevent Scotland from scoring the winner.
19.11.1988, Stadion JNA (Belgrade)
Yugoslavia 3-2 France
11.12.1988, Stadion Crvena Zvezda (Belgrade)
Yugoslavia 4-0 Cyprus
Goals: Savićević 3, Hadžibegić (pen.)
Line-up (5-3-2): Ivković – Stanojković, Jozić, Hadžibegić, Spasić (Jurić h-t), Brnović – Stojković, Baždarević, Sušić – Savićević, Zl. Vujović (c)
Yugoslavia must deal with the loss of Katanec (suspended), though weak Cyprus are never a match. 30-35 minutes of up-tempo play and some slick passing sees the hosts rewarded with twin-look goals from exciting young forward Savićević, and by the time libero Hadžibegić has added a late first half penalty goal, the only question is how big the winning margin would be. Cyprus go very negative after the break, something which unsettles the hosts, though Savićević strikes again to complete his hat-trick late on.
05.04.1989 Greece 1-4 Yugoslavia
Goals: (Zlatko) Vujović 2, Tuce, Jakovljević
Line-up (5-3-2): Ivković – Stanojković (Tuce 67), Hadžibegić, Jozić, Zo. Vujović, Spasić – Stojković, Sušić, Baždarević (Đurovski 87) – Mihajlović (Jakovljević 64), Zl. Vujović (c)
29.04.1989, Parc des Princes (Paris)
France 0-0 Yugoslavia
27.05.1989 Belgium 1-0 Yugoslavia
14.06.1989, Ullevaal Stadion (Oslo)
Norway 1-2 Yugoslavia
23.08.1989 Finland 2-2 Yugoslavia
06.09.1989, Stadion Maksimir (Zagreb)
Yugoslavia 3-1 Scotland
20.09.1989 Yugoslavia 3-0 Greece
Goals: D Brnović, Prosinečki, Pančev
Line-up (3-5-2): Ivković (Leković h-t) – Spasić (Panadić 63), Jozić (Petrić h-t), Vujačić – B Brnović, Prosinečki, Zo. Vujović, Stojković (c) (Mijatović h-t), D Brnović (Stanojković h-t) – Pančev, Jakovljević
11.10.1989, Olimpijski Stadion (Sarajevo)
Yugoslavia 1-0 Norway
28.10.1989, Olympiakó Stádio (Athens, Greece)
Cyprus 1-2 Yugoslavia
Final position: 1 (out of 5 – qualified)
Total record: 8 6 2 0 16-6 14
Home record: 4 4 0 0 11-3 8
Away record: 4 2 2 0 5-3 6
Number of players used:
Number of players including unused substitutes:
Ever-presents (720 mins):
– game by game
|Player||Sco (a)||Fra (h)||Cyp (h)||Fra (a)||Nor (a)||Sco (h)||Nor (h)||Cyp (a)|
14.11.1989 Brazil 0-0 Yugoslavia
Line-up (5-4-1): Ivković – Stanojković, Spasić, Hadžibegić (c), Panadić, Marović – Stojković, Janković (Boban 64), Prosinečki, D Brnović – Savićević
Osim set his troops up in a defensive formation, and they rarely got much joy out of dominant hosts. However, Yugoslavia kept their shape at the back, and did not allow the fancied Brazilians much. Could’ve lost it at the end as Bebeto struck the post.
13.12.1989 England 2-1 Yugoslavia
Line-up (5-4-1): Ivković – Stanojković, Spasić (Petrić 82), Hadžibegić, Vulić, D Brnović (Panadić 77) – Savevski, Stojković, Sušić (c) (Prosinečki 77), Škoro – Mihajlović
Another defensive approach, but Yugoslavia were often par with the hosts in balance of play, but could not prevent the goalscoring prowess of Robson. Undone inside the first minute, then the excellent Škoro struck sweetly to even up. Could not prevent Parker setting up 2-1.
28.03.1990 Poland 0-0 Yugoslavia
26.05.1990 Yugoslavia 0-1 Spain
03.06.1990 Yugoslavia 0-2 Netherlands