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World Cup Qualifying: Is Luck Finally on the Side of Bosnia and Herzegovina?

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World Cup Qualifying: Is Luck Finally on the Side of Bosnia and Herzegovina?
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Bosnia and Herzegovina have a short history as a country after becoming an independent nation in 1992.

The Bosnian football team have an even shorter history as their first attempt to qualify for an international competition came in the build up to the 1998 FIFA World Cup.

In the qualifying process for the 1998 FIFA World Cup, Bosnia and Herzegovina finished fourth behind Denmark, Croatia and Greece in Group 1.

Over the next decade, the closest that the Bosnians got to qualifying for a major tournament was in 2004 when they finished in fourth place in their qualifying group, just one point behind Norway for the second place playoff round spot of UEFA EURO 2004.

Things began to turn around for young nation during qualification for the 2010 World Cup when they finished in second place in Group 5 behind Spain.

Bosnia and Herzegovina were drawn with Portugal in the playoff round.

In the two matches between the clubs, one in Lisbon and one in Zenica, Portugal won both matches by a 1-0 scoreline.

Two years later, the same situation was presented to the Bosnians in their bid to qualify for UEFA Euro 2012.

Once again, they finished second in their group, but they were only one point behind France at the end of Group D play.

Again, Portugal were drawn as opponents in the playoff round.

The first leg was played in Zenica with Bosnia and Herzegovina holding their opponents to a draw at home.

Four days later in Lisbon, the Bosnians were beaten 6-2, as they were behind from the eighth minute on after Cristiano Ronaldo opened the scoring.

Fast forward to the current situation that Bosnia and Herzegovina are in. They sit in first place of Group G in FIFA World Cup qualifying.

Two early wins over lowly Lichtenstein and Latvia have propelled them into first place of the group with six points.

Heading into their trip to Greece on Friday, the Bosnians will be looking to prove that they are the favorites in the group.

There is plenty of reason to believe that they are the front runners in Group G.

The star of the team is Manchester City forward Edin Dzeko, who has scored 25 goals in 47 national team appearances. His rise to international stardom began last season in his first full year in England.

Dzeko scored the equalizing goal in City's comeback against QPR on the last day of the season to help his club win the EPL title.

The other name on the Bosnia and Herzegovina roster that is familiar to English fans is Asmir Begovic, the first-choice keeper for his club, Stoke City and for his country.

The 25-year-old replaced Thomas Sorensen as Stoke's top-choice keeper last season and has been a solid player for the Potters after replacing the Danish international.

Begovic already has three clean sheets in seven EPL matches this season as his play continues to improve.

The other main players for Bosnia and Herzegovina include 32-year-old defender Emir Spahic, who is the captain of the national team and currently plays in La Liga with Sevilla.

Spahic has had a successful career around Europe with clubs like Lokomotiv Moscow and Montpellier before joining the Spanish side in 2011.

Playing for his country is also a family affair for Spahic as he plays with his cousin, Dzeko.

The other stars of the Bosnia and Herzegovina team include Miralem Pjanic, who at 22 years old has already made 36 appearances and is now playing for Serie A side Roma.

Roaming in the midfield along with Pjanic is Zvjezdan Misimovic, who played with Dzeko at Wolfsburg for two years before moving to Galatasaray and then on to Dynamo Moscow where he currently plays.

Dzeko's main partner at the forward position is Vedad Ibisevic who is best known for his time at Hoffenheim in the Bundesliga.

The 28-year-old switched Bundesliga clubs in January as he moved to Stuttgart, where he has scored 11 goals in 20 league matches for the club.

With plenty of talent on the pitch for their 2014 World Cup qualifying campaign, Bosnia and Herzegovina are now in prime position to finally make their first appearance in a major tournament.

Another part of that road to success is the weak Group C that they are playing in.

In the past, the Bosnians have been drawn with a European superpower like France or Spain, but this time around only Greece and Slovakia will provide a threat to winning the group that the Bosnians already sit on top of.

While there is still a year left of qualifying matches to play, Bosnia and Herzegovina are motivated by a past of heartbreaking results and have a team that is chock full of experience to finally make it to the promised land, which this time around is Brazil.

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