Captain Aleksandar Kolarov says Serbia can achieve big things in Russia ahead of their World Cup opener against Costa Rica.
Since the break-up of the former Yugoslavia, Serbia have never gone beyond the group stage of a World Cup.
Their opponents in Samara famously reached the quarter-finals four years ago after topping a group including former winners England, Italy and Uruguay.
With heavyweights Brazil favourites to progress as winners of Group E, both teams know a good start is vital if they are to challenge Switzerland for the other qualification berth.
Former Manchester City full-back Kolarov believes Serbia can reach the knockout stages.
“If we play to our potential, are honest among ourselves, as we have been these three weeks, then we can do something,” Kolarov said in quotes reported on the Serbian FA’s official website.
“Tomorrow’s game will determine how important the subsequent games will be – I hope that we will get a good result and it will mean a lot if we win.
A post shared by Aleksandar Kolarov (@a.kolarov11_) on Jun 16, 2018 at 5:22am PDT
“I will tell the younger players to stay calm and enjoy their football because this is a huge opportunity for the 23 of us to represent our country.
“Qualifying for Russia was a great success, we are here on merit, but we are not going to be satisfied merely by being here, we want to go a step further.”
Costa Rica lost their last two warm-up games to England and Belgium, but coach Oscar Ramirez insists they will be better for that experience.
“We need to improve the pressure we put on our opponents,” Ramirez told a press conference broadcast on fifa.com.
“That’s something that maybe cost us in our friendlies, especially in our last match where we had a hard time dealing with Belgium.
“The first match in the World Cup is always crucial. We know Serbia press a lot in the first 20 minutes – we need to be able to handle this.
“The first goal will be key.”