Montenegrin side FK Mladost Podgorica are unexpectedly heading to Turkey for a 12-day training camp in Antalya, courtesy of one of the nation's most successful coaches.
FC Lokomotiv Moskva boss Miodrag Božović stunned the capital club by offering to pay their air fares and accommodation for a midwinter camp. "A few days ago Božović called me and asked if we were interested in coming to Antalya to train, at his expense," Mladost sporting director Miodrag Vukićević explained. "There are no words to say how grateful we are. He proved he is not just a great coach but also a great man, which is more important."
The 46-year-old described his gesture as "an act of friendship, not self-promotion", yet it has only served to enhance his already substantial reputation among Montenegrins. A central defender for FK Budućnost Podgorica and FK Crvena zvezda as well as in the Netherlands, Cyprus, Japan and Indonesia, he is known as 'Grof' (the count) back home in honour of his elegant playing style and excellent manners off the pitch. His standing as a coach in Russia, meanwhile, is also rising.
Briefly Budućnost boss in the first part of the 2006/07 campaign, Božović moved to Russia in 2008 to take charge of FC Amkar Perm, securing their first-ever European qualification with a fourth-placed finish. He subsequently coached FC Moskva – a spell curtailed by the club's financial problems – and then FC Dinamo Moskva, before adding another feather to his cap when his FC Rostov team won the 2014 Russian Cup, beating FC Krasnodar on penalties in the final.
Božović was appointed to the Lokomotiv helm in October, with the Muscovites struggling under Leonid Kuchuk after an inspiring third-placed finish last term. In his first eight games, they have won five and drawn three – and notably have not conceded in their last five outings. He has duly been credited with restoring composure and spirit to a flagging side, and – fifth at the winter break – there is now talk of a top-three placing for the Railwaymen.
Lokomotiv winger Aleksandr Samedov feels the coach has made life interesting for his new squad. "Miodrag knows how to get a team ready mentally and physically," said the 30-year-old, who was previously with Božović at Moskva and Dinamo. "His system is based on Dutch methods but he changes it every year, somehow introducing something new. And don't think we just line up and run in training. All the exercises are with the ball, but the sessions are hard work too."
"At the moment it looks good, but it is only the start," Božović said. "We need to get a run of good results. Lokomotiv are a big club. At the very least we have to earn a place in Europe – anything less would be regarded as failure. I am ready to handle the pressure. After victories I don't celebrate too much and after a defeat I don't have time to be downcast – I know that a coach lives from game to game."
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