Team Serbia is getting set to face their biggest challenge ever when they do battle with the number one team in Europe, Team France, on their home turf Saturday, November 9 as as the IFAF 2020 European Championship Group A qualification round winds up.
Serbia and France play in Division A which also includes the Czech Republic. The winner of this game advances to the final four teams in Europe who will do battle in 2020 for the European crown.
Serbia has never come this close to the top teams in Europe. The Serbs are ranked as the #10 team in Europe while France, after winning the 2018 IFAF European Championship, are the number one team.
The Serbs defeated Team Czech Republic 16-0 two weeks ago to set up this showdown. The French national team had defeated the Czechs 28-3 a month ago in the first game of the three team division.
That game against the Czechs was the first game for Serbia in two years. The Serbians had not played a game since 2017.
Serbia’s head coach Doug Adkins is aware of the challenge he faces.
AFI: You’re facing the defending European champions. How much do you change your game than how you played against the Czechs?
Adkins: We will simplify the offense. We need to do the things we do well even better and clean up our mistakes. The Czech game was the first in two years for this team and we suffered from those typical first game problems. Guys were missing assignments, forgetting plays. Hopefully we will have eliminated those.
AFI: You may be coaching your biggest game as head coach for Team Serbia. A win and you finish among the top four teams in Europe. It’s probably not too difficult getting your team fired up.
Adkins: It’s a challenge no question. The opportunity is there. It would definitely shock the European football world. All I know is we will do everything we can.
AFI: As they proved in their game against the Czech Republic, France has speed in their secondary. They will invite you to throw the ball deep against them. They had four interceptions against the Czechs. How do you counter that?
Adkins: No way to counter speed. You have to try to take advantage of things under the speed. The little details, The execution. But this is probably the fastest Serbian national team we have ever had. The speed matchup be interesting.
AFI: The French running game in the end wore down the Czechs and they scored three late touchdowns for the win. But it seems that you have the size and speed to match them. Are you concerned about your team’s stamina?
Adkins: They do wear you down. And they will keep coming at you. They get more effective later in the game. That’s something we’re always a little concerned about. Stamina. We are really prepared. It is a physical matchup and our guys have to just keep at it.
AFI: How much would a win in a game as big as this one mean to football in Serbia?
Adkins: Almost impossible to put it in words. A win in this game would a be massive boost for the Serbian association.