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Branislav Ivanovic replaced by Aleksandar Kolarov as Serbia captain ahead of World Cup

Serbia have stripped long-serving Branislav Ivanovic of the captaincy and handed it to fellow defender Aleksandar Kolarov as they start the build-up to the World Cup in Russia with two friendlies, coach Mladen Krstajic said on Monday.

The experienced Ivanovic, who has scored 12 goals in 100 internationals and is one of only three survivors from the 2010 World Cup, has captained Serbia since 2012 when he took over from ex-Manchester United defender Nemanja Vidic.

During the qualifying campaign for the 2018 tournament, the 34-year-old former Chelsea player, now plying his trade with Russian side Zenit St Petersburg, was often criticised by fans and pundits, with many believing he has lost a yard of pace.

The Balkan nation qualified for the 32-team World Cup after an eight-year absence from major tournaments, having made an early exit at the 2010 finals.

Ivanovic's demotion has come after the Serbian FA (FSS) sacked coach Slavoljub Muslin straight after he led the country to the World Cup and appointed the inexperienced Krstajic.

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