Serbia v. Switzerland: International American Football Preview

Swiss Host Serbians this Saturday, October 19th in Winterthur

– Winterthur, Switzerland

This Sunday, Team Switzerland will play host to the closest rival they have in international American football as Serbia’s national team (Schweiz – Serbien) will pay a visit to Deutweg Stadium in Winterthur, Switzerland, about 40 minutes from Zurich, Switzerland.

Team Serbia

Team Serbia

This will be the third meeting between these two teams since 2007.

“I played in that first game in 2007 and remember how surprised we were at how good Serbia was,” said Switzerland’s head coach Chris Winter. “We won 32-19 but they were better in 2012 beating us 20-14 in final of the Group C tournament.  I know they have improved at the club level in leaps and bounds since then. We will have our hands full.”

That game was key for Serbia as they advanced up to Group B in 2013.

Team Switzerland vs Team Serbia

Team Switzerland in action in 2012 against Team Serbia

Swiss Team Ready for Serbia

In his first outing as national team head coach Winter was pleased with his tryout camp. “We had 80 players turn out for the camp and we will have 60 dressed for the game.”

Switzerland will rely on rookie quarterback Dea Baumann who at 6’3″ and 220 lbs can throw and has the size to take off when he needs to. Baumann replaced injured Cedric Townsend as the Calanda Bronco quarterback this past season and surprised everyone with his poise and ability to manage a game.

He has two great targets in Brian Keene a 6’4″ wide receiver with soft hands. At 6′ Adrian Suenderhauf is a Wes Welker like slot receiver. If the ball is anywhere near him he will catch it according to Coach Winter.

Team Switzerland receiver Keene

Brian Keene in action

On defense, Serbia has to keep an eye out for middle linebacker Michael Wilhelmy who is fast and smart, and also strong safety Jeffrey Provencal who hits as hard as anyone.

The defense is anchored by 6’5″ 265 lb defensive tackle Dominik Liechti who is big and very fast. In fact, the Swiss bobsled team is considering him for a spot.

Serbia’s Aim to Advance to Europe’s Group A

Team Serbia’s victory over Switzerland in 2012 was decisive as it qualified them for the B pool. They played the Group B championships in 2013 in Italy but lost out to Denmark who advanced to Group A.

George Šarčević is the head coach of Team Serbia and he has some veteran players to rely on.

Running back Mihajlo Josovic at 21 has become the leader of Serbia’s offense. He was one of the best players on the Serbian team that defeated Switzerland two years ago. He has a history of success in football and is now starting tailback for Vukovi Belgrade. In last year’s Group B championships, he rushed for 236 yards and two touchdowns in three games.

Team Serbia - Mihajlo Josovic

Mihajlo Josovic

Wide receiver Bratislav Bosnjakis is an 11 year veteran of Team Serbia. In fact, he scored Serbia’s first ever touchdown in the European Championships. He was won the Serbian championship with Vukovi and is now playing for the Pancevo Panthers.

Team Serbia 2

Another touchdown for Serbia

Captain of the Serbian team is safety Igor Nedeljkovic  who many consider almost irreplaceable. He has been a starter for Vukovi since the age  of 18.  At European Group B Championships in Italy in 2012 he had nine tackles, two deflected passes and one interception.

Vukovi defensive end Milos Lisanin is the firing pin and captain of Serbian defense. At the last Group B European Championships in Italy he recorded five tackles, two sacks and a fumble recovery not to mention scoring a touchdown against eventual winner Denmark.

American football is a relatively new sport in Serbia having been played at an organized level since 2003. This makes their recent successes at both the club and international levels all the more surprising. Vukovi Beograd topped the Serbian league this year and came second in the IFAF Europe Champions League tournament.

Switzerland’s history in American football dates back to 1982 and the first Swiss championships were held in 1986.

Roger Kelly is an editor and a writer for AFI. A former PR Director the B.C. Lions of the Canadian Football League for 7 years, he now lives in Sweden writing about and scouting American Football throughout the world.