Bosnia & Herzegovina Team Preview

The Players

Asmir Begovic goalkeeper, Stoke City

Avdija Vrsajevic defender, Hajduk Split

Ermin Bicakcic defender, Eintracht Braunschweig

Emir Spahic (captain) defender, Bayer Leverkusen

Sead Kolasinac defender, Schalke

Ognjen Vranjes defender, Elazıgspor

Muhamed Besic defender, Ferencvaros

Miralem Pjanic midfielder, Roma

Vedad Ibisevic forward, VfB Stuttgart

10 Zvjezdan Misimovic midfielder, Guizhou Renhe

11 Edin Dzeko forward, Manchester City

12 Jasmin Fejzic goalkeeper, Aalen

13 Mensur Mujdza defender, Freiburg

14 Tino-Sven Susic midfielder, Hajduk Split

15 Toni Sunjic defender, Zorya Luhansk

16 Senad Lulic midfielder, Lazio

17 Senijad Ibricic midfielder, Kayseri Erciyesspor

18 Haris Medunjanin midfielder, Gaziantepspor

19 Edin Visca forward, Istanbul BB

20 Izet Hajrovic midfielder, Galatasaray

21 Anel Hadzic midfielder, Sturm Graz

22 Asmir Avdukic goalkeeper, Borac Banja Luka

23 Sejad Salihovic midfielder, 1899 Hoffenheim

Star man


Manchester City’s Edin Dzeko, 33 goals in 60 internationals, is an obvious figurehead, but the playmaker Miralem Pjanic is key. A lovely attacking playmaker, one for the purists, and provides excellent service to Dzeko and Stuttgart’s Vedad Ibisevic.

Most likely to be sent home in disgrace
The Bosnian FA. Fifa briefly (2011) banned the Bozzers from international football for refusing to nominate one, rather than three, FA presidents.

The coach

Safet Susic has the whole country behind him after masterminding dynamic, exciting qualifying charge that saw the Dragons bang in 30 goals.

Grudge match

The collapse of Yugoslavia and resultant Bosnian war from 1992-95 would suggest a crack at Croatia might reflect local political tensions but a run of World Cup misses features one side twice: Portugal – play-off defeats before the 2010 World Cup and Euro 2012, with the second-leg of the latter tie lost 6-2 – are Bosnia’s bogeymen.

Holed up

The Dragons’ (Zmajevi) den in Brazil is the Casa Grande in the seaside resort of Guarujá, known as “The Pearl of the Atlantic” and 40 miles from São Paulo. Training takes place at the not-quite-finished yet Estádio Municipal Antônio Fernandes. Susic says the locals will be impressed: “I’ll be bringing 23 young lads, charming ones with good manners. Everyone will have something nice to say about us.”

How they qualified
Dramatic final match day saw them finish level on 25 points in group G, but bested Greece on goal difference to qualify automatically.

World Cup high
This! The young nation of Bosnia-Herzegovina is mighty proud as its talented team heads to its first World Cup.

World Cup low
Losing to Portugal in the play-offs to qualify for 2010 (Portugal repeated the dose in the euro 2012 qualifying play-off as well).

Familiar faces
Asmir Begovic (Stoke City), Edin Dzeko (Manchester City).

Title odds

The stereotype is …
Fair to say that most English football fans will be unburnt by preconceptions about Bosnian team. Probably more skilful than our mob.

The reality is …
Modern, sophisticated team with genuine attacking élan, top-class goalie. Inspirational skipper in defender Emir Spahic. The coach says his “tactical gamble” – playing all his star forwards at once in a flexible 4-1-3-2 – is for the good of the game. “When you have players such as these, it would be unfair to the fans, to the sport itself, not to unleash all our talent.” It worked in qualifying: 30 goals scored in 10 games.

What they’re known for
Horrible war 85 per cent
Idiot footballers thinking that the free transfer case was the Bosnian Ruling 15 per cent

How Google translates the national anthem
Still being finalised, but so far the Bosnian lyricists have got: “You are the light of the soul Eternal Flame Burner”

One minute 40, and it sounds quite like ‘In The Bleak Midwinter’.

How to dress like their fans

Blue and yellow are the order of the day. Support of team has been a major touchstone of new nation’s identity.

Commentator’s go-to stat
The highest peak in Bosnia and Hercegovina is Maglic Mountain. It is not believed to have Maglical properties.