Montenegro sack coach for boycotting qualifier

Montenegro have sacked their Serbian coach Ljubisa Tumbakovic after he pulled out of Friday's Euro 2020 qualifier against Kosovo, the Montenegro Football Association (FSCG) said on Saturday.

"The FSCG executive board made a unanimous decision to relieve Tumbakovic of his duties after he decided not to be in charge of the national team for the match," the organisation said in a statement.

"Apart from being an unpleasant surprise, Tumbakovic's move also constitutes a breach of his professional duties stipulated by his contract.

"The executive board also regrets that pressure from certain circles resulted in players Filip Stojkovic and Mirko Ivanic also pulling out of the fixture.

"Things which have nothing to do with sports have defeated sports and football on this occasion."

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Newspaper Vijesti suggested pressure from fan groups from Serbia had prompted Tumbakovic as well as Stojkovic and Ivanic, who are both Serbian-born, to miss the match against Kosovo.

None of the three were immediately available for comment.

Assistant coach Aleksandar Jankovic and goalkeeping coach Dragoje Lekovic will take charge for Monday's qualifier against Czech Republic.

Kosovo, whose population is more than 90 percent ethnic Albanian, declared independence from Serbia in 2008 and has since been recognised as a sovereign nation by more than 110 countries.

A group of nations, including Serbia, China, five EU members and Russia have refused to recognise it.

The Group A match, played behind closed doors at Buducnost stadium after Montenegro were given a crowd ban for racist incidents during the 5-1 defeat by England at the same ground in March, ended in a 1-1 draw.