Serbia traveled 18 hours by bus to come home with a victory
Team Serbia, the Serbian national team in American football, has opened its quest for winning the IFAF Europe Group B championship which would advance them into the A group, by beating rival Switzerland 17-0 in an exhibition game this past weekend in Winterthur, Switzerland. The bus ride alone was a battle as they left Friday and arrived Saturday afternoon for a Sunday game.
This was the third meeting between these two teams since 2007 and with the victory, Serbia has taken a 2-1 edge. Switzerland dearly wanted to win this one as revenge for a 20-14 loss in 2012 which cost them advancement to Group A. However, Serbia was simply the better team on the day.
Team Serbia opened the game with a drive that took them down to the Swiss one yard line. Team Switzerland’s defense stiffened and held the Serbs forcing them to kick a field goal. Kicker Darko Klasan made no mistake and Serbia took a 3-0 lead.
Serbia’s offense which has been retooled, struggled early on, relying heavily on the power of running back Mihajlo Josovic who proved a tough challenge for Switzerland’s linebackers.
Nevertheless, with the offense having trouble, Serbia’s rock solid defense kept Switzerland on its heels and midway through the second quarter with Switzerland deep in their own zone, linebacker Miloš Janković forced a Swiss fumble on Switzerland’s 20 yard line taking it in for a touchdown and a 10-0 lead.
Early in the third quarter Swiss quarterback Dea Baumann led his team on their best drive of the day penetrating the Serbian red zone. But for the second time in the game turnovers proved costly. The Serbian defense forced another Swiss fumble and took the ball over.
In a bid to regain momentum, Swiss head coach Chris Winter rotated quarterbacks (Baumann, Gächter, Nydegger and Zavadil) but even with Brian Keene catching anything thrown his way, Switzerland could not penetrate the Serbian defense.
Two series later Marko Baković took the ball in from 14 yards out to make the score 17-0. The Serbian defense did the rest of the job and Serbia has now made a statement.
Serbian head coach George Sarcevic: ““We traveled for 18 hours to get here. We started by bus from Belgrade Friday evening and arrived Saturday afternoon. We had a brief session of acclimatization and then all to bed. I liked how our team played with grit and determination right from the start. Our defense played with intensity.”
Swiss defensive coordinator Antonio Morisco: “We are a new group. We have a new coaching staff, a new playbook and players who have only played together three times.
All in all, we are pleased with our team. Sure, we lost and we are not happy about that. But this game should be seen as part of a development program that has just started.”
The next game for Team Swizerland is in January against Italy.
For Serbia, this was an excellent test. With the top club in Serbia – Vukovi Beograde – now ranked among the elite teams in Europe, American football in Serbia is on the rise. The Serbs will play in Group B in 2016
Thanks to Sergio Brunetti and the Serbian Association of American Football.