Buducnost Podgorica Montenegro - Hajduk Split Croatia 1:1
Thursday 19 July 2007
by Aleksandar Radović
HNK Hajduk Split's UEFA Cup first qualifying round trip to FK Budućnost Podgorica has brought back a mix of fond and painful memories at the Montenegrin club.
It is 16 years since the two sides met in a competitive game, when both were competing in the former Yugoslavia, and while Budućnost - who finished as runners-up in the inaugural Montenegrin season - will be without goalkeeper Mladen Božović and forward Nikola Vujović, both Montenegrin internationals who have decided to leave the club, there is still optimism in Podgorica.
'Only on paper'
"Yes, Hajduk are better then Budućnost, but only on paper," said the Montenegrin side's coach Saša Petrović. "They have to prove that on the pitch. We are ready for two big games. In the past, Hajduk also came to Podgorica as favourites but often left the field with their heads down. We will try to spring a surprise. There is no need for us to be afraid."
A large contingent of travelling Hajduk fans is expected for the first game, and 20-year-old Budućnost attacking midfielder Milan Djurišić is looking forward to a taste of old-fashioned Yugoslavian excitement. "I don't remember that period but I am glad we have a chance to turn back time for fans in Montenegro," he said. "I'm sure the stadium will be full and that we will play with our hearts."
The most famous connection between the two clubs is that a deal was arranged for Montenegrin footballing idol Predrag Mijatović - now sporting director at Real Madrid CF - to leave Budućnost for Hajduk in 1989, with a transfer fee being agreed, only for the move to collapse in the space of 24 hours when the player decided to join Belgrade giants FK Partizan.
A less famous move that never was in 1990 saw current Budućnost coach Petrović lined up to replace his current Hajduk counterpart Ivan Pudar as goalkeeper at the Poljud Stadium. "It was a done deal but the Budućnost officials suddenly changed their minds and blocked the transfer," he remembered. "I remember the headline: 'Pudar leaves, Petrović arrives'."
The coach's dream of a move to the Dalmatian coast will finally come true as he leads his side into the second leg of the tie on 2 August. "Now, at last I will go to the Poljud," said Petrović. With a little luck, he will be going there to defend a healthy first-leg lead.
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