6 World Cup Moments Bosnia-Herzegovina Will Remember from First-Ever Finals
Bosnia-Herzegovina packed their bags earlier than they hoped for, but their World Cup win over Iran on Wednesday changed the atmosphere and provided a positive end to the group stage for the team.
This was the first World Cup for Bosnia-Herzegovina—their first major tournament, in fact—and despite the disappointment after the loss to Nigeria in the second group game, the country remains proud of the squad.
In the next couple of months, Bosnians will have to make some important moves, including the discussion over coach Safet Susic's future as well as some veteran players in the team, but for now they can enjoy the fact that this was a memorable tournament for them.
Here are six World Cup moments that Bosnians will remember from their first-ever finals.
Hearing the National Anthem Before the Opening Match
When the team lined up in the iconic Maracana Stadium for the national anthem before the Argentina match, the country was in delirium.
Nineteen years after the brutal war which took more than 100.000 innocent lives, Bosnia is still struggling with economic and political troubles.
Before this World Cup, many fans would have struggled to find the country on the map. However, that game in the Maracana has changed everything for the team.
Bosnia-Herzegovina might have lost to Argentina courtesy of a great Lionel Messi goal, but many Bosnians will have felt the emotion of the national anthem before the game, which will rank as one of the greatest moments in the country's history.
Lady Luck Fails to Shine vs. Nigeria
Bosnia were the only debutants in this World Cup, but the footballing gods seemed to simply overlook them.
But this was on the cards less than three minutes into the World Cup when a clearance from Lionel Messi's free-kick struck Sead Kolasinac and bounced behind Asmir Begovic.
However, even worse ill-fortune was to follow in the last seconds of the Nigeria match, when Bosnia pressed for an equaliser to keep their hopes of progress alive.
In the last seconds of the match, Edin Dzeko managed to create enough space for himself in the box, but his attempt was deflected wide of the post.
Bosnia were inches away, but sometimes the luck just isn't on your side.
Edin Dzeko's Wrongfully Disallowed Goal vs. Nigeria
Bosnia were far from impressive against Nigeria, and head coach Safet Susic made some mistakes. They were shaky in the back and toothless upfront. But still, the team were denied a legitimate goal in the game.
Dzeko escaped his marker and converted Zvjezdan Misimovic’s pass for a goal that could have changed the direction of the match, but the Manchester City striker was adjudged to be offside. Television replays showed that Dzeko was not offside, though.
Of course, nobody can be sure that Bosnia-Herzegovina would have won, or drawn, even if the goal had been allowed, but it would have been a huge boost for their chances.
The fact that the officials hesitated for more than a moment before they decided to make the call will always be carved into the minds of the fans.
For a couple of seconds, Bosnians had been celebrating the most important goal in their history.
Safet Susic and Experienced Players Take Share of Blame
Bad luck and a poor refereeing decision had a huge influence on Bosnia-Herzegovina's early exit from the World Cup, but the biggest part of the blame goes to the team and Susic.
Apart from the Iran match, the experienced players deemed crucial to the team failed to deliver.
Dzeko struggled against Argentina and Iran, along with Zvjezdan Misimovic, while captain Emir Spahic also disappointed.
But in football, players are rarely the ones who take responsibility for bad performances. Susic was the man who decided to field this team and this system.
His worst move was a tactical experiment against Nigeria, when he failed to introduce his only left-back, Sead Kolasinac, as Nigeria threatened most down their right flank.
The absence of his reactions, as well as the inability to recognise the problems his team had and to solve them, especially against Nigeria, were the main reasons for Bosnia's disappointing performances.
The Historic Win over Iran
In competitive terms, the final Group F match against Iran had no importance for Bosnia-Herzegovina, but in their world, it was everything. This was their first World Cup, and Bosnians desperately wanted to win.
After being criticised following the defeat to Nigeria, the 3-1 triumph over the Iranians came as a relief all-round.
Susic found his preferred 4-4-2 style to be victorious, which gave him an argument for his critics.
But more than anything else, the win was a historic moment for Bosnia-Herzegovina. Bosnians will now be hoping that this is just the first of many victories in major tournaments.
Bosnia-Herzegovina Youngsters Prove the Future Is Bright
Arguably, the biggest achievement in this World Cup for Bosnia-Herzegovina was introducing new names to the big stage.
Previously, the names of Dzeko and Miralem Pjanic were the only major figures in Bosnian football, but this tournament has showed there is much beyond the pair.
Muhamed Besic impressed in most aspects against Argentina and Iran and was solid against Nigeria. Kolasinac, who did not allow that own goal against Argentina to affect his confidence, also impressed in the group stages.
Players such as Asmir Begovic, Haris Medunjanin, Izet Hajrovic or Senad Lulic were already known to a degree, but another pleasant surprise was the performance of young defender Toni Sunjic, who looked like an experienced international, even though the Nigeria game was only his fourth start for Bosnia.
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