Manager Safet Susic relied on his attacking options in World Cup qualification, where Bosnia topped their group with nine wins in 10 matches, scoring 30 goals. That made them the fourth-most efficient team in Europe, just behind powerhouses like Germany (37), Netherlands (34) and England (31), but at the same time, their imperfections in the back line were exposed.
While Edin Dzeko and Vedad Ibisevic were paired in all 10 competitive matches the last two years, Susic struggled to create stability and consistency in defence. Captain Emir Spahic was the only unbroken link; Susic tried nine different players in the campaign but never found the perfect solution.
One of the reasons was the fact that he had no proper option for left-back. He tried out both Lazio's Senad Lulic and Hoffenheim's Sejad Salihovic, but they lack the natural sense for defending, what made Bosnians vulnerable down the flanks. After former Ranger Sasa Papac decided to retire, Susic's squad list was simply deprived of a natural left-footed defender, and he was desperate for a quick fix. Then the message from Gelsenkirchen arrived.
Sead Kolasinac told Bosnian paper Dnevni Avaz in August 2012 that he was ready to turn his back on Germany and play for Bosnia if they wanted him.
He was totally anonymous at the time. The Schalke 04 left-back had just turned 18 and signed his professional contract with the Bundesliga side. He was still waiting for his league debut, and most people, including Susic, were sceptical. But in just a couple of months, Kolasinac made the first-team shirt his own and was called up for the German U-20 team. The Bosnians did the same as with many before him—Miralem Pjanic, Zvjezdan Misimovic or Asmir Begovic to mention some—and convinced him to switch citizenship.
This additionally motivated the young defender, who soon played his first minutes in the Champions League, and established himself as a regular with Schalke. If not the most skilled and creative player, Kolasinac is a raging bull when it comes to defending.
Quite ambitions and self-confident for his age, Sead developed his tackling and duel game, cultivating this into a positive aggression. This is exactly what Bosnian needed—a modern defender for the future who is mature enough to play at the World cup as well. He made his debut versus Argentina in St. Louis, but after only two caps, he is almost certain for the starting XI at Maracana next month.
Bosnians won all the praise for their attacking approach in qualification, but to create a good result on the big stage, they will have to learn how to defend. The Destroyer, as Kolasinac was nicknamed by Bosnian fans who seem to adore him, could be the answer to Susic’s prayers and his surprise weapon at the back.