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Clemente appointed coach of Serbia

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Clemente left Bilbao after a row over summer signings.

MADRID, Spain -- Former Spain coach Javier Clemente will take charge of the Serbian national side for the next two years, he announced on Tuesday

"It has been agreed, I'm now coach of Serbia and will coach the side through the qualification for Euro 2008," Clemente told Reuters.

The 56-year-old will become the first foreign manager in charge of Serbia, who meet the Czech Republic in a friendly in Prague on August 16.

It will be their first international as an independent nation since the spilt with Montenegro.

Clemente was sacked by Athletic Bilbao earlier this month after criticizing the club's transfer policy despite steering them clear of relegation last season.

He won two Spanish league titles in the first of his three spells with Athletic Bilbao and enjoyed an impressive run of 31 unbeaten games while in charge of Spain between 1992 and 1998.

Clemente will sign a contract until June 2008 worth around 700,000 euros ($880,000).

"I will travel to Serbia on Thursday to sign the deal and be presented to the media on Friday.

"At the moment I can't say precisely what plans I have for the team because I have to study the set-up, the players and everything else," he said. "I don't know enough about them yet.

'Freedom to work'

"One thing I can say, though, is that the Serbian Federation are prepared to give me the freedom I need to work. I wouldn't have accepted the job if they weren't prepared to do that. That would be stupid."

Clemente said that former Yugoslavia defender Risto Vidakovic, who played under him while he was coach of Real Betis, would act as one of his assistants.

The former Spain coach also confirmed that he would continue to live in Bilbao while doing the job.

"I will do exactly what I did when I was Spain coach," he said. "I will live in Bilbao but will be travelling throughout Europe and Serbia to watch the players as much as possible."

His first objective will be to gain qualification for Euro 2008, to be held in Austria and Switzerland.

He will take over from Ilija Petkovic, who resigned after the recent World Cup in Germany where his team, then Serbia and Montenegro, lost 1-0 against the Netherlands, 6-0 against Argentina and and 3-2 against Ivory Coast.

The first Euro qualifier is September 2 in Azerbaijan, followed by a September 6 home game against Poland. The other teams in qualifying group A are Belgium, Finland, Portugal, Armenia and Kazakhstan.

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