Jefferies seeking an `Italian job'
8 Aug 1996
HEARTS have pinned their European hopes on Italian Pasquale Bruno as they embark on their Cup-winners' Cup campaign against Red Star of Belgrade in Yugoslavia tonight.
Once their task would have put fear into most clubs, but with the political unrest in that part of the world and the effects on its football, the fear is now of the unknown.
Red Star, winners of the European Cup in 1991, are rebuilding a side and feel they have the natural talent to restore former glories.
But, as unlikely as it sounds, they will find out how far they have come in their two-leg tie against Hearts.
The Yugoslavs have a potent striker in Zoran Jovicic - scorer of all four goals in a cup-tie for the club last week - but Hearts manager Jim Jefferies sees the main threat coming from 19-year-old midfield player Perica Ognjenovic.
And that's where Bruno comes in.
The Italian has become something of a cult figure playing at the heart of the Tynecastle defence, but he will be deployed in the midfield tonight, with the job of "looking after" Ognjenovic, a youngster tipped to become the next top player to emerge from a country rich in footballing talent.
Said Jefferies: "Pasquale is going to be a vital man and his experience should tell.
He will be our anchor man in midfield and have the job of defusing situations before they reach our back three.
"Ognjenovic makes things happen for Red Star, but I'm sure I have given Pasquale a job he can handle.
He has the ability and class." Bruno is also confident he can handle the task.
"When I played in Italy's Serie A with Juventus and Torino I was always given a marking job and enjoyed it.
"But it was always in defence and that is where I prefer to play.
So when Jim Jefferies tells me I have to play in midfield, I feel like killing myself.
"To be serious, however, I'm looking forward to this match.
I am excited to be again involved in European competition (he won a UEFA Cup medal with Juventus in 1990 and was a runner-up with Torino two years later) because it brings back great memories.
"My favourite role is as a marker, and when I played in Italy I had to do that kind of job on Van Basten, Maradona, and Klinsmann among others.
Having played against those guys, this young Yugoslav shouldn't be too difficult.
"But while Red Star are not as good as they were five years ago, they still play good foot- ball.
"Their technique is excellent and they have a real passion for the game.
But I'm confident we have the talent to get a result here and go on to win the tie at Tynecastle." However, Jefferies warned: "We have to be organised and avoid doing anything stupid.
We will not sit back, however, for we have to go for an away goal and I believe I have the players who can do that.
"If we have to lose - and I'm not thinking that way - I would rather it was 2-1 than 1-0.
That's the way it is in Europe." Before Hearts left to train last night, Red Star coach Radimir Petrovic and former Dundee United manager Ivan Golac, who is now back living in Belgrade, sounded words of warning to the Scots.
Said former Arsenal midfielder Petrovic: "We have a very young side and one I hope will develop into a powerful and exciting team.
I believe we have enough talent to produce the victory we will need to take to Scotland." Golac added: "I think that within two years Red Star can become as good as the side that won the European Cup five years ago.
"Yes, they are young, but the Red Star tradition is that anyone who plays for the club is expected to learn very quickly, and these boys are showing signs of doing that." In their 14 warm-up matches, Red Star have scored 45 goals and lost just one.
That is a measure of what Hearts are up against it.
But the Tynecastle men are rich in experience, and provided they play to their full potential should get a result that keeps the tie open.
Taken from the Herald