5 Things Bosnia-Herzegovina Need to Do to Bounce Back from Disappointment
Despite the excitement of making their debut appearance in a major tournament, Bosnia-Herzegovina will be disappointed with the fact that they are out of the World Cup after the group stage.
A solid performance against Argentina in the opener raised hopes back home, where the country went into a state of euphoria, but they hit rock bottom after losing to Nigeria 1-0 on Saturday.
So, what does the future hold for Bosnia-Herzegovina? Was this team just a passerby on the big stage, or will we see more of them in the future?
With young players like Asmir Begovic, Miralem Pjanic, Muhamed Besic—who were basically their best at this World Cup—they have something to hope for. But, to take a step forward, the Bosnians will have to change a few things.
Here are five things we think they have to change if they want to improve in the future.
Time to Say Goodbye to Safet Susic…
Maybe it seems radical, but this looks like the only possible option. Safet Susic took over the team—based on the same players as the World Cup team—in 2009 and steered them through two qualifying campaigns, the latest one being successful.
He made the history books as the first coach to lead Bosnia-Herzegovina to a major tournament, and his reign at the end can and will be judged by that.
But Susic had a chance to prove himself on the big stage and he failed. His decisions and the lack of reaction directly cost Bosnia-Herzegovina two losses in the World Cup.
And while the failures he showed in the match against Argentina were considered to be a sort of initiation process, his preparation and reactions against Nigeria raised some eyebrows.
Susic gave enough material to his critics, and taking this team to another qualifying campaign would probably be counterproductive for Bosnia-Herzegovina and Susic himself.
Susic did his best, but the World Cup showed that that is not enough to manage the team at the highest level. As Bosnia-Herzegovina look to the future, they will want more than this, and this looks like a perfect time to end what once was a happy relationship.
It's not just that the love faded; they just have different visions of the future.
…And to Find a Proper Replacement
In the 19 years that this team has existed, Bosnia-Herzegovina changed eight managers, but none of them was a top-class coach. The explanation is quite simple—they just did not have enough money to pay for the best.
The first contract that Safet Susic signed was worth €5,000 per month, a salary that was below average in the world of football.
But things have changed in the meantime, and Susic is not even the worst-paid coach in this tournament. The country and the federation still have their troubles, but qualifying for the World Cup earned them enough money not to worry.
What they have to worry about is the profile of the future coach, who would inherit most of the team that played in the World Cup.
Bosnia have a couple of legendary names like the ones of Vahid Halilhodzic, who is coaching Algeria in the World Cup, or Dusko Bajevic, winner of nine trophies in Greece, but the question is if either is ready to take over the national side. Also, there is an option of taking the steps that Croatia took, installing a legendary and inexperienced former captain—Sergej Barbarez would be the favorite—as the future coach.
In any case, the Bosnians should start thinking fast. As soon as October, qualifiers for Euro 2016 start, and having teams like Belgium, Wales, Israel and Cyprus in the group could be a challenge.
Establish a System
One of the main problems of this generation is the fact that their results perfectly hid all the problems. Even through qualification, this Bosnia-Herzegovina showed many flaws and weaknesses, but they were disguised by the scoreline and the fact that the Dragons scored 30 goals.
However, for more informed and knowledgeable followers of the team, it was obvious that most of the good results were not the product of a good system, but almost exclusively individual efforts.
Bosnia relied on the skills of Pjanic, the creativity of Misimovic, Lulic's pace down the flank, Edin Dzeko's good form and Asmir Begovic's reflexes, but all this was never incorporated into a well-organized and balanced team. That can be applied to both the psychological and physical aspects of this team, as the World Cup perfectly proved.
Bosnia-Herzegovina must establish a system and improve their organization, making this team the priority. Even in the World Cup they sacrificed the interest of the team to cater for some of the players, and they paid a huge price for it.
Time for Retirement Plans for Some
Bosnia-Herzegovina went through some turbulent times in the last 19 years, coming to the top literally from the bottom of the football world. Some of the crucial players in the last three campaigns became veterans in this World Cup. However, they failed to deliver on the huge expectations back home, and it is obvious that this team needs some fresh legs.
The Bosnians happen to be a very emotional nation, and they often struggle to admit that some of their favorites are ready for their retirement, but they are now left with no choice.
It would be nonsense to expect some of the players, like Zvjezdan Misimovic or Emir Spahic, to continue their international career and prolong it to 2016, when Bosnia-Herzegovina expects to play in the European Championship.
However, the core of this team is young, and almost the whole generation that represented Bosnia in this World Cup can easily play in the next two major tournaments—some of them even more.
Focus on the Future
Playing in the World Cup in Brazil was a historic moment for Bosnia-Herzegovina. It was their debut in a major tournament after years of trying, and they should take this as a step forward.
Their aim is to become regulars in such competitions, but for that they’ll have to change their whole structure, their system and most importantly, their mentality.
The positive for Bosnia is the fact that their future is built outside of the Balkans, among their huge population abroad, and the players are raised in a different environment and with a different mentality.
If they manage to do all this, they could become a solid European team that would be a constant in the football world. For such a small and complex country, that would be more than enough.