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Soccer-Serbia fight China to recruit Stanojevic - FA president

Reuters

BELGRADE, Feb 7 (Reuters) - Serbia want Aleksandar Stanojevic as national team coach but know they face competition from China, where he has been working for the last two seasons, the country's FA president Tomislav Karadzic said on Friday.

Stanojevic won a Serbian league and cup double with Partizan Belgrade in 2011 before heading to China.

There he pulled Dalian Aerbin from the relegation zone to a fifth-place finish in 2012 before taking Beijing Guoan to third in the league and reaching the cup semi-finals in 2013.

"We are very close to starting talks with Stanojevic but we understand that he also has an offer from the Chinese national team," Karadzic told Belgrade media.

"We hope the situation regarding his status will be clear next week and if it is we will get the talks underway. We haven't ruled out other candidates too but Stanojevic tops the list."

Karadzic conceded that Stanojevic emerged as the prime candidate after they made futile attempts to lure back Sinisa Mihajlovic.

He quit the national team to take over at Sampdoria after failing to qualify for the 2014 World Cup in Brazil.

Mihajlovic joined the Italian side in November and has since pulled them out of the bottom three in Serie A.

They are now up to 13th after beating Genoa 1-0 in the city derby on Monday.

"I've spoken to Mihajlovic on a daily basis for some time now and there are no positive steps forward, meaning that our chances to get him back are minimal," said Karadzic.

"We should have a new coach next week. If not, the FA executive board session on Feb. 25 should be the final deadline."

Serbia will play Ireland in Dublin in a friendly on March 5. (Writing by Zoran Milosavljevic; Editing by Toby Davis)

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