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Thread: Bosnia and Herzegovina

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    Bosnia and Herzegovina

    Bosnia-Herzegovina coach Safet Susic has backed his team to advance from their FIFA World Cup™ group into the last 16 at the showpiece event in Brazil.

    "We must have a goal and that goal is to try to go through to the second round, to qualify for the round of 16," Susic told reporters on Monday as he presented his provisional 24-man squad for the World Cup.

    Squads must be reduced to a maximum of 23 players by the 2 June deadline with midfielder Mensur Mujdza in a race-against-time to be fit after tearing ankle ligaments in March. Susic said Argentina were the "absolute favourites" in Group F where Bosnia will also play Nigeria and Iran.

    "We will play for second place but I believe that we could find ourselves among the 16 best teams in Brazil," the 59-year-old Susic said.

    Bosnia, the former Yugoslav republic which gained independence in 1992, will be making their debut at the World Cup finals. Susic's squad, which he has gradually built up since he took over the national team in 2009, will be led by two star strikers in Manchester City's Edin Dzeko and Vedad Ibisevic of Stuttgart.

    Dzeko and Ibisevic were the second and third best scorers in Bosnia's European qualifiers for the World Cup, with ten and eight goals respectively. Bosnia will kick off their World Cup campaign on 15 June against Argentina, Susic saying that Muhamed Besic of Hungary's Ferencvaros would have the unenviable job of shadowing Lionel Messi.

    "He is the only player among the 24 who could stop Messi," Susic said.

    The players will gather in Sarajevo on 15 May for a first training camp, before leaving on 27 May for the United States.

    In the US, Bosnia will play two friendlies, against Côte d’Ivoire on 30 May and Mexico four days later.

    Bosnia-Herzegovina squad
    Goalkeepers: Asmir Begovic (Stoke City/ENG), Asmir Avdukic (Borac Banja Luka), Jasmin Fejzic (VFR Aalen/GER)

    Defenders: Emir Spahic (Bayer Leverkusen/GER), Toni Sunjic (Zorya Lugansk/UKR), Sead Kolasinac (Schalke/GER), Ognjen Vranjes (Elazigspor/TUR), Ervin Zukanovic (Gent/BEL), Ermin Bicakcic (Eintracht Braunschweig/GER), Muhamed Besic (Ferencvaros/HUN)

    Midfielders: Miralem Pjanic (Roma/ITA), Izet Hajrovic (Galatasaray/TUR), Mensur Mujdza (Freiburg/GER), Haris Medunjanin (Gaziantepspor/TUR), Senad Lulic (Lazio/ITA), Anel Hadzic (Sturm/AUT), Tino Susic (Hajduk/CRO), Sejad Salihovic (Hoffenheim/GER), Zvjezdan Misimovic (Guizhour Renhe/CHN), Senijad Ibricic (Erciyesspor/TUR), Avdija Vrsaljevic (Hajduk/CRO)

    Forwards: Vedad Ibisevic (VfB Stuttgart/GER), Edin Dzeko (Manchester City/ENG), Edin Visca (Istanbul BB/TUR)

    Please note that the Squad lists are only official once they have been confirmed and published by FIFA on 16 May at 12:00 CET.

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    Susic: I'm here on merit

    Over the years several players have appeared at the FIFA World Cup™ in sides coached by their fathers or fathers-in-law: Uruguay’s Milton Viera in 1966, Italy’s Paolo Maldini in 1998, Niko Kranjcar of Croatia and Dusan Petkovic of Serbia in 2006, and finally Argentina’s Sergio Aguero, the Netherlands’ Mark van Bommel, the USA’s Michael Bradley and Vladimir Weiss of Slovakia in 2010.

    A new name may soon be added to that list, with Tino-Sven Susic appearing in the provisional 24-man Bosnia squad that has just been named by Zmajevi coach and former Yugoslavia star Safet Susic, who also happens to be his uncle.

    There is more to the Sarajevo-born Tino-Sven than just being the nephew of a famous footballer, however. Skilled in the art of winning and passing the ball, the well-built yet technically gifted Hajduk Split defensive midfielder can work wonders with his left foot.

    Proof of that came only last weekend when he scored a stunning goal against Osijek in a Croatian league match, controlling the ball in textbook fashion and arrowing a shot into the top corner from 25 metres out.

    “Tino has just had two excellent seasons with his club and he’s earned his place on the list thanks to his qualities as a player,” commented Susic on announcing his Brazil 2014 squad.

    As if to answer any critics, he then said: “I know there will always be people who don’t agree with the selection of some players and that some of those who have missed out will be disappointed. Right now, however, these are the best 24 players we have.”

    Bosnia can consider themselves fortunate to have a player of Tino-Sven’s qualities, given that he also holds Belgian and Croatian nationality and only recently decided where his international future lay.

    Leaving the former Yugoslavia after his birth, he grew up in Belgium and represented his adopted country at virtually all age categories.

    Explaining his situation to FIFA.com, he said: “I have a very strong attachment to Belgium, but my whole family is from Bosnia. That’s where my roots are. In the end my decision was a logical one.”

    In making it, he has given himself quite a task, however. Having won unanimous praise in Belgium, where he starred as a youngster for Standard Liege, and done much the same in Croatia, where he has spent the last two years with Hajduk, he now has to go and win over a section of Bosnia fans perhaps suspicious of the motives behind his selection.

    “Being a Susic is not easy,” he explained. “I have to prove that I’m in the side not because of my name or my uncle but because of the work I’ve done. I’ve learned to live with that. Some people think I’ve had a few strings pulled for me, but I don’t see it that way at all and I’m going to do everything I can on the pitch to show that.”

    A hard taskmaster
    Whatever the case may be, the suspicions generated by the Hajduk man’s selection have in no way detracted from his delight at getting so close to making the world finals. And as he made clear, there was no question of him receiving any preferential treatment when the squad was announced.

    “Croatian TV didn’t broadcast my uncle’s press conference and I only found out on the internet,” he explained. “I was absolutely thrilled when I saw my name. It was a childhood dream come true. I’ve worked very hard to make it happen. I am very proud and very happy.”

    While the Bosnia coach has had only a small part to play in Tino-Sven’s success, the same cannot be said of his father, Sead Susic, the former Yugoslavia and Crvena Zvezda forward and Safet’s older brother.

    “If there is one person I need to thank, then it’s him,” the 22-year-old said. “He’s my role model. He’s always pushed me to improve, and he’s pushed me very hard, too. I owe him an awful lot.”

    Given the talent he possesses, the latest member of the Susic dynasty could well be silencing the doubters in Brazil in a few weeks’ time and carving his very own path.

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    Dzeko, Begovic Brazil bound with Bosnia and Herzegovina

    Stoke City goalkeeper Asmir Begovic and Manchester City striker Edin Dzeko have retained their places in Bosnia and Herzegovina's final 23-man FIFA World Cup™ squad. Coach Safet Susic had previously named 24 players due to an injury concern over Mensur Mujdza.

    The Freiburg full-back is fit to take his seat on the plane to Brazil, meaning Genk defender Ervin Zukanovic is the unlucky man to miss out. Susic's nephew, Hajduk Split midfielder Tino-Sven Susic, has been included in a squad featuring six players from the German Bundesliga and five from the Turkish Super Lig.

    Bosnia and Herzegovina squad:

    Goalkeepers: Asmir Begovic (Stoke City), Jasmin Fejzic (Aalen), Asmir Avdukic (Borac Banja Luka).
    Defenders: Emir Spahic (Bayer Leverkusen), Toni Sunjic (Zorya Luhansk), Sead Kolasinac (Schalke), Ognjen Vranjes (Elazigspor), Ermin Bicakcic (Eintracht Braunschweig), Muhamed Besic (Ferencvaros), Mensur Mujdza (Freiburg).
    Midfielders: Miralem Pjanic (Roma), Izet Hajrovic (Galatasaray), Haris Medunjanin (Gaziantepspor), Senad Lulic (Lazio), Anel Hadzic (Sturm Graz), Tino-Sven Susic (Hajduk Split), Sejad Salihovic (Hoffenheim), Zvjezdan Misimovic (Guizhou Renhe), Senijad Ibricic (Erciyespor), Avdija Vrsajevic (Hajduk Split).
    Forwards: Vedad Ibisevic (Stuttgart), Edin Dzeko (Manchester City), Edin Visca (Istanbul Buyuksehir).

    * Squad lists are only official once they have been confirmed and published by FIFA on 5 June at 12:00 CET.

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    Bosnia builds steam with win over Mexico

    Bosnia-Herzegovina boosted their confidence ahead of their first FIFA World Cup™ with a 1-0 friendly victory over Mexico on Tuesday that left El Tri looking for answers.

    Galatasaray midfielder Izet Hajrovic scored the lone goal of the match in the 41st minute after a strong first half from Bosnia. Senad Lulic tracked the ball down in Mexico's area and slipped it through to Sejad Salihovic, who cut back to set Hajrovic up for the one-time finish.

    "It's a good win for us," said Bosnia and Manchester City striker Edin Dzeko. "Now I think we're prepared for the World Cup."

    The match before a sell-out crowd of 60,707 at Soldier Field, home of the NFL's Chicago Bears, followed Bosnia's 2-1 friendly win over Côte d'Ivoire in St. Louis, Missouri, and was the country's last match before they head to Brazil.

    Bosnia will open their World Cup campaign against Argentina on 15 June, and will also play Iran and Nigeria in Group F.

    Despite the backing of a partisan crowd, Mexico were punchless in attack as Javier "Chicharito" Hernandez found himself frustrated in front of goal despite some good looks. The best of those came after his picture-perfect touch on Miguel Layun's long ball set him free on goal, only for his effort glance off the post.

    Mexico, who lost midfielder Luis Montes to a broken leg in their previous match against Ecuador, were also without defender Rafael Marquez.

    Mexico coach Miguel Herrera experimented with a new starting line-up with Hernandez earning his first start since the end of the Premier League season.

    Herrera also gave Alfredo Talavera the nod at goalkeeper ahead of Guillermo Ochoa and the injured Jesus Corona, but Herrera will have plenty to think about as he looks toward a Friday friendly against Cristiano Ronaldo and Portugal in Foxboro, Massachusetts.

    Herrera has said he wants his starting line-up against Portugal to be the same starting side he sends out for Mexico's World Cup opener against Cameroon on 13 June. Mexico will also face hosts Brazil and Croatia in Group A.

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    Susic: We won’t sacrifice a player to man-mark Messi

    No Miralem Pjanic, no Edin Dzeko, no problem for Bosnia and Herzegovina. Even without the mercurial Roma midfielder and the €32m Manchester City striker, Safet Susic’s side comfortably saw off Brazilian club Santos U-21s 5-1 in an unofficial friendly on Monday – their last before the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil™. It was the Bosnians’ fourth successive victory and will send them into Group F high on confidence. Following the game, FIFA.com caught up with Susic to discuss the performance at the Vila Belmiro, the fitness of Pjanic and Dzeko, and his plans to combat Lionel Messi in Bosnia and Herzegovina’s opener against Argentina.

    Safet, were you pleased with your team’s performance in the victory over Santos U-21s?
    Safet Susic:
    I think it wasn't bad at all. It was a good match, with many opportunities for both sides, many goals, many beautiful pieces of play. I think we should be satisfied.

    Have the recent results boosted Bosnia and Herzegovina’s confidence?
    Definitely, definitely. The self-confidence we had lost after the two defeats has come back. The boys are now, evidently, in a very good mood. During the matches they even tried out some things that they had previously practised with fear. It is evident that they played in a relaxed way, that the [recent] results have helped to regain self-confidence, to bring the morale to a high level.

    What is the state of Pjanic’s and Dzeko’s fitness?
    Nobody is seriously injured. The four players I spared was to not take any risks. Dzeko is not even injured, he is just a bit tired. The other three players, they have minor injuries. If the match against Argentina was tomorrow, everybody would be ready.

    Do you plan to man-mark Lionel Messi?
    It is a dilemma for me, but to sacrifice a player just to man-mark Messi, I don't think it would be good for us. We have a player who would be ideal for man-marking Messi – this player is [Muhamed] Besic – but this guy is so well prepared physically that it wouldn’t be good for us to make him track Messi. Messi sometimes stands for several minutes, not participating in the match. It would therefore be a shame to sacrifice a player [to mark him]. Messi will probably enjoy plenty of freedom, but each time he gets the ball, somebody needs to be near him. But I don't think we have ever played a match having dedicated a player to man-mark a specific opponent, and it’s going to be the same [against Argentina].

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    Bosnia and Herzegovina: Misimovic, Ibisevic take strength from defeat

    Anyone expecting the wind to have been knocked out of Bosnia and Herzegovina’s sails following their defeat to Argentina in their opening match at the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil™ could not have been more mistaken. At the team’s tournament headquarters there is no trace of frustration or even disappointment, quite the opposite in fact. If anything, the World Cup debutants’ confident display in the 2-1 reverse to one of the title favourites has given them cause for optimism going forward. “We gave a good account of ourselves in our first game,” Zvjezdan Misimovic told FIFA.com.

    Indeed, the playmaker was eager to focus on the positives from the overwhelming experience at the Maracana in Rio de Janeiro. “Of course it was completely uncharted territory for us,” said the 32-year-old, who plays for Guizhou Renhe FC in the Chinese first division. “We shouldn’t have gone behind the way we did with an own goal, but we managed to get back into the game. Generally we wouldn't measure ourselves against a team of Argentina's standing, but if we continue to play as we did against them then we can definitely achieve something here in Brazil.”

    Hungry for more
    On Sunday coach Safet Susic’s side face Nigeria at the Arena Pantanal in Cuiaba in their second Group F encounter. There, his technically-gifted ensemble will be more eager than ever to record a historic first World Cup victory. To do so, Misimovic is aware of what needs to improve against the dynamic west African outfit: “We’re a very close-knit team and we have a lot of very gifted individuals too. Perhaps we could be more determined in certain situations. If we can do that then I'm sure the fans will continue to enjoy watching us.” There is also a tangible sense throughout the south-eastern Europeans’ camp that they have a point to prove. As eager as they are to showcase their considerable talents, there is an unshakeable resolve not to leave the pitch without something to show for their efforts this time. Zmajevi (The Dragons) are also spurred on by the prospect of penning the next chapter in their World Cup history, after striker Vedad Ibisevic scored Bosnia and Herzegovina’s maiden tournament goal against Lionel Messi and Co.

    “I’m truly delighted for him,” Misimovic said of his team-mate’s strike. “He also scored the decisive goal that meant we qualified to be here in the first place. Nobody is letting their head hang [despite the defeat] and that’s important.” Ibisevic himself experienced mixed emotions in the wake of his goal, as he revealed to FIFA.com: “It’s an unbelievable feeling for me. First of all even being at a World Cup is indescribable, and then to play at a stadium like that in our opening game against a team like Argentina. On top of that I scored a historic first World Cup goal for Bosnia at the end. It was just a shame that we didn’t end up taking anything from the match. It’s still an amazing feeling though.”

    No room for doubt
    The game gave the 29-year-old, who plays for Bundesliga club Stuttgart, renewed belief that his side are not at the tournament merely to make up the numbers: “I hope the team have now realised that we can play - even against such opponents [as Argentina]." Ibisevic’s hunger for success is unmistakable and he is uncompromising in his approach to the team’s forthcoming games: “We want to take more from our next fixtures and we’ve still got a lot of self-confidence.” Given the euphoria running through the Bosnia and Herzegovina camp, it is clear that is no mere lip service.

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    Spahic: A World Cup is unforgettable

    Farewells have a tendency to stir up mixed feelings, yet Bosnia and Herzegovina’s Emir Spahic was left with a decidedly sour taste in the mouth after his side’s defeat to Nigeria in their second group game meant the end of the Europeans’ stay at the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil™. However, his country’s 3-1 triumph over Iran in their final match at the Arena Fonte Nova, which once again lived up to its reputation as a goal magnet, put a smile back on the captain’s face. Not only did the efforts from Edin Dzeko, Miralem Pjanic and Avdija Vrsajevic ensure the tournament newcomers left for home on a high note, it also secured them a place in the history books after recording their country’s maiden World Cup victory.

    “I’m very proud of my team,” a beaming Spahic told FIFA.com after the final whistle in Salvador. “We’re very proud because it’s the first time we’ve represented our country at a major tournament.” Spahic would doubtless have preferred to prolong his stay in South America, but a 2-1 reverse to Lionel Messi’s Argentina - who went in front through an own goal - and a narrow 1-0 loss to Nigeria spelled the end of the line. “We thought we’d reach the knockout rounds and with a little bit of luck we could have done,” the Bayer Leverkusen defender continued. “That’s exactly what we were lacking in the Nigeria game, but that’s how football is and that’s life so we just need to look to the future now. I hope our country is proud of us; they have to be proud of us.”

    In addition to the satisfaction of bowing out of the tournament in style, Spahic will return home with indescribable experiences of his stay in Brazil. “There are too many to count,” the 33-year-old said. “Showing my country to the world has been a fantastic opportunity. It’s been a pleasure for us and our nation to participate at such a huge tournament. Playing at a World Cup is unbelievable and it’s something I’ll never forget.” And with that, a smiling Spahic made his way to the team bus, but not before leaving FIFA.com with a parting shot. “I always take something positive from any situation - always.”

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    Susic leave post

    Bosnia and Herzegovina are set to begin a new era under a new coach after their FIFA World Cup™ campaign ended on Wednesday.

    Coach of the Balkan team, Safet Susic, has announced he will step down now that the group stage has concluded. Bosnia and Herzegovina, without a chance of progressing before Wednesday's game against Iran, won 3-1 at Salvador's Arena Fonte Nova. "This was my last game at the World Cup," Susic said to Brazilian newspaper Lancenet. "Unfortunately there will not be another one. Sometimes it is a nice feeling to be free of obligations. I can decide my own fate and this is my answer." Susic, who played for Yugoslavia in the 1982 and 1990 World Cups, came under fire for his defensive-minded tactics in losses to Argentina and Nigeria in Group F.

    "The win against Iran is scant consolation," the 59-year-old said. "But I congratulate my players for a display of commitment and passion against a team needing a win to keep alive their hopes of progressing. Manchester City's Edin Dzeko scored the Bosnians' first goal against Iran, and said: "We could have done a better job in the World Cup." Despite being Bosnia and Herzegovina's first appearance at a World Cup finals, much was expected of Susic's side. The team scored 30 goals and conceded just six to finish top ahead of Greece in their qualifying campaign.

    "I feel sorry for those we have disappointed," Susic said. "We should have done better by the quality of our players but now is the time for this team to look forward to [UEFA] Euro 2016 qualifiers. We lacked experience and cool heads at crucial moments in the opening two games but I cannot complain about effort. That's just football."

    It will not be much consolation but Susic and his team won the admiration of outgoing Iran coach Queiroz: "Congratulations to Bosnia," he said. "With all due respect to Nigeria and Argentina, the best team in the group (Bosnia) didn't qualify. They have great players and they played at another level to us. My players went to their physical and mental limits against Bosnia, but it wasn't possible to get the result."

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