The coach of Vojvodina, Nenad Lalatović, announces a fierce fight for the third place in the Super League, but he also expects a spectacle against Partizan in the semifinals of the Serbian Cup.

The draw today connected the Old Lady with Partizan in the replay of last year’s final, and Lalatović points out that the fight for the new final will not be easy at all.

– There are no easy matches in this round, because the four best teams stood out. Partizan and we are old rivals, we know each other and there will be no big surprises. We play at our stadium and that means against such a rival. Partizan is playing much better under the leadership of Aleksandar Stanojević, they played a great first half in the last derby, they had a long series of victories. However, we want to win, as always. It is not time to think about Partizan yet, first to turn to the next game – said Lalatović.

Vojvodina welcomes Zlatibor on Monday at 6 pm, which is an opportunity for the Old Lady to get back on the winning track.

– Zlatibor has an excellent coach, young players and I am very sorry that this club came to the situation that it is about to be relegated from the league. I personally wish them, if they drop out, to return to the Super League as soon as possible. I hope that my injured players will recover as soon as possible. Čović is the first among them, he trained great yesterday, but we will not take any risks. Đorđević is returning to the team, it is still early for Bojić and Topić. We want to play as well as possible and fight for that third position until the end – says Lalatović.

The coach of Vojvodina then responded to the criticism of his players after the defeat by Rad.

– I have already said that teams that fight for survival can never be easy rivals. They are especially motivated when they play against Vojvodina, which has already secured Europe almost 10 rounds before the end of the season, which last happened when I was the coach five years ago, but such things are quickly forgotten here. Some only know how to criticize either me or my players. We must not forget that Vojvodina only two years ago managed to fight in the last round to go to the playoffs instead of fighting for survival. Since then, Vojvodina is the winner of the Serbian Cup, at the top of Serbian football and breaks all club records. These players brought the trophy from Niš, in which we were completely alone, and we made all the fans happy. That was quickly forgotten. It bothers my players when they read the critics in the newspapers after a weaker half against Rad, which had only two shots on goal. Nobody says that Vojvodina was without Topić, Čović, Bojić, Vukadinović, who gave half of our goals this season. On the other hand, they want a chance for younger players and when I give them that opportunity, they criticize again. Nobody says that this was the right moment for young guys like Zukić, Kabić, Novevski, or Devetak to gradually get a chance – Lalatović points out.

The coach of Vojvodina drew a parallel with his predecessor Krivokapić, who forced the young players and in the end lost his job.

– I remember, I was the coach in Niš, Krivokapić came with Vojvodina, went out on the pitch with nine young players and lost. I congratulated him, but told him that he’ll get fired in a month. He left here because he pushed young players and because of that he had no results, and he is a great expert. He disappeared from the stage, lost his job, and then I mentioned him, as my former teammate from Red Star, who brought Vojvodina a million marks when he left the club. Why didn’t they give him a two-year contract? Stand behind the man who pushed those young players, why are you replacing him? After him, I came to the bench, and he got on the street. Why didn’t he get a contract to work in the Youth Academy? And then, when I spoke publicly about his case, Red Star remembered him. He worked there individually with the players, and now he is a Manager in the FSS, because my word is heard far away – Lalatović points out.

He especially referred to the fact that certain players’ contracts expire at the end of the season, just like his and his staff’s.

– For some players, the contracts expire at the end of the season, the contracts expire for the coaching staff at the end of the season, and no one asked me who stays or whether someone should leave. No one talked to me as a coach about my plans. As a coach, I have already provided a lot, so why would I break my nerves when no one was worthy to invite me, Dragan Šarac, Vidak Bratić, Jovanić, our fitness trainers etc. We are free in a month and a half. Nobody has to invite us, offer us contracts, I don’t care. I know, like every true fan of Vojvodina, what I did for this club. Obviously, someone thinks that Vojvodina should be strong, to have a coach with character. I did not allow anyone to interfere in my work and the choice of players. I may not be a better coach than the previous ones, I just didn’t allow anyone to interfere in the work of the profession. We worked only for the benefit of mine, yours and our Vojvodina. No one can criticize my players when they secure Europe 10 rounds before the end. I wanted to relieve them a little in the previous two rounds, but now when we are fourth and when it bothers many experts, I want to tell them that I will lead the team now as if we were fighting for survival. Because, in the end, Vojvodina will be third. I love Vojvodina more than 90% of those who spit on us, because those who criticize us for one bad half do not like this club. It is very difficult to motivate players who have already secured Europe and whose contract expires in a month and a half, and who do not know what will happen to them – said Lalatović.

He believes that the management of the club had to talk to the players about the possible extension of the contract a year ago.

– Why would any of the players tear for Vojvodina, risk a serious injury, and be left without a club in the summer, ie he doesn’t even know if he will have a contract? I will always protect my players, because I am proud of them. Besides them, I became a better coach and a better person, I became a trophy coach. It doesn’t matter to me if they will give me a contract, because I will find a new club. I will leave Vojvodina for the summer, and I would resign even now if I could. It is their shame that no one addresses us and that we work in such conditions. I don’t need a new contract when half of the management doesn’t want me, I will be a free coach from the summer. It is important to me that real fans love me and respect me, because they know what I did. A few days ago, I was watching the volleyball match between Vojvodina and Partizan, where I received support from several fans present. The volleyball club is led by Zbiljić, and when I saw how he was looking forward to every point, I wished that people were looking forward to every goal here as well. Vojvodina needs more such people, who live for the club – Lalatović concluded.

The match Vojvodina – Zlatibor is on the schedule on Monday at 6 pm, while the semifinals of the Serbian Cup are on the schedule on April 21.