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Focus: Who are Rovers facing? We take a look at Partizan Belgrade

Their manager has been compared to Sir Alex Ferguson and they used to pay good money to Mateja Kezman. This is Partizan Belgrade…

Image: Andrej Cukic/AP/Press Association Images

AS SHAMROCK ROVERS gear up to face Partizan Belgrade in the Europa League fourth qualifying round at Tallaght Stadium, we take a closer look at the Serbian side…

Who’s the star turn?

That would be captain Sasa Ilic, a skilful attacking midfielder who has spent time playing club football in Spain, Turkey and Austria. Ilic is in his second spell with Partizan, having made 200 appearances and scoring 101 goals the first time around. Although he is now 33, his eye for a killer pass has not left him and he will be a threat for Dan Murray and Craig Sives.

Watch out for Vladimir Volkov

The left winger is a bit of a Gareth Bale, starting off from deep in his own half before marauding forward. Pat Sullivan will find Volkov to be a tricky customer as he looks to create chances for the club’s new signing Eduardo.

Eduardo?

Not the former Arsenal striker, no, but a player signed to a four-year contract in the summer from Brazilian Serie B side Sao Caetano. Eduardo managed 15 goals in 31 games last season, bagging five in a single match against Sao Bernardo, and at 24 has been earmarked as a player who could move on to better things again should his time in Serbia prove successful.

Cup final controversy

Partizan won their domestic cup back in may when opponents Vojvodina Novi Sad walked off the pitch in protest at refereeing decisions. Partizan were awarded the victory for its 12th cup title in strange circumstances.

‘Sir Alex Stanojevic’

That would be manager Aleksandar Stanojevic. A defensive midfielder, he didn’t have much of a playing career and turned to coaching at the age of 29 following the end of a spell with Hungarian side Videoton.

His first job came with Serbian side Srem before spells as assistant to Miroslav Bukic with both Partizan and the Serbian national team. Having coached the country’s U19 side to third place in the 2009 European U19 Championship in Ukraine he was given the top job at Partizan, replacing Goran Stevanovic.

Stanojevic was the club’s youngest ever manager, at 36, when he took over last year and has been earmarked as a future coach of the Serbian national team.

Any notable former players?

Plenty. Predrag Mijatovic is one of the club’s best loved former players and, following the end of his playing career, he went on to become director of football at Real Madrid. Since leaving that role he has been heavily involved with new Russian superpower Anzhi Makhachkala. Partizan was also home to two players beloved (ahem) of Aston Villa fans in Savo Milosevic and Sasa Curcic. The latter once compared himself to ‘McManaman and Cantona,’ but he was more of an Eric Djemba Djemba.

Other Partizan luminaries include Ivan Tomic (who played for Alaves in their UEFA Cup defeat to Liverpool in 2001), Macedonian star Giorgi Hristov, terrible striker Mateja Kezman and the fantastically named Albert Nad – who is listed as ‘Sport Coordinator’ with the club.

READ – Thursday’s Departure Lounge >

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