First team boss Ivica Osim was also in charge of the country’s Olympic select, and he travelled to South Korea with an interesting squad which contained a number of players who were already members at full international level. Apart from two players, Katanec and Jozić, they had a squad of home based players only, where the two youngest were goalkeeper Leković and striker Šuker, both 20 years of age. Said Jozić, a big candidate for the libero position, and a forward named Milinković were the senior members at 27. So far in 1988, goalkeeper Leković, full-back Stanojković, centre-backs Spasić and Barbarić, wide players D Brnović and Tuce, striker Đukić and, of course, midfield ace Stojković had featured for the full select, in addition to the two foreign legionnaires. In addition, defensive midfielder Šabanadžović had previously represented Yugoslavia at full international level. It seemed a very strong squad.

Osim had, however, originally wanted an even stronger squad. There were ultimately a few omissions, perhaps most notably Mallorca central defender Zoran Vulić, whose club did not wish to let him travel to South Korea. The domestic leagues were well under way in Europe, and they would not pause ‘just’ because there was an Olympic football tournament taking place elsewhere. In addition, Dinamo Zagreb forward Radmilo Mihajlović had been meant to travel. Only a late aggravated injury prevented him. There had been speculation as to whether his replacement would be either Davor Šuker of Osijek or Alen Bokšić of Hajduk. Osim had ultimately elected the former. Finally, Red Star ‘keeper Stevan Stojanović was a late replacement for Osijek’s Miroslav Žitnjak, whose bad luck also saw him injured just before the start of the tournament.

Yugoslavia had been paired in group with Australia, Nigeria and Brazil. For sure, they were favourites to proceed to the knock-out stage along with the Brazilians. For the opening match, Osim named an eleven consisting of players such as Spasić, Katanec, Brnović and Stojković, but they succumbed to defeat, something which meant they would probably have to get something from the ultimate group game against Brazil in order to make it beyond the first stage. They did win against Nigeria in their second match, but went down 2-1 to Brazil. Coupled with Australia’s 1-0 win against the Africans, it meant that Yugoslavia bowed out at the earliest opportunity. Surely, it had been a major disappointment considering what a strong squad the manager had picked.


Group D:
18/9: Australia: 0-1
20/9: Nigeria: 3-1 (Stojković 2, Šabanadžović)
22/9: Brazil: 1-2 (Šabanadžović)

List of players:
1 Dragoje Leković, Budućnost (20), goalkeeper
2 Vujadin Stanojković, Vardar (25), defender
3 Predrag Spasić, Partizan (23), defender
4 Srečko Katanec, Stuttgart (25), defender/midfielder
5 Davor Jozić, Cesena (27), defender
6 Dragoljub Brnović, Partizan (24), defender/midfielder
7 Refik Šabanadžović, Crvena Zvezda (23), midfielder
8 Toni Savevski, Vardar (25), midfielder
9 Ivica Barbarić, Velež (26), midfielder
10 Dragan Stojković, Crvena Zvezda (23), midfielder
11 Cvijan Milošević, Sloboda Tuzla (24), midfielder
12 Stevan Stojanović, Crvena Zvezda (23), goalkeeper
13 Duško Milinković, Rad (27), forward
14 Davor Šuker, Osijek (20), forward
15 Semir Tuce, Velež (24), forward
16 Vladislav Đukić, Partizan (26), forward
17 Mirko Mihić, Sloboda Tuzla (23), forward
18 Nenad Jakšić, Radnički (22), forward