Possible Replacements for Safet Susic as Bosnia-Herzegovina Head Coach

Sasa Ibrulj@sasaibruljCorrespondent IJuly 4, 2014

Possible Replacements for Safet Susic as Bosnia-Herzegovina Head Coach

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    Kerstin Joensson/Associated Press

    The last day of June was the last working day for Safet Susic as Bosnia-Herzegovina national team coach.

    His contract expired, and the Dragons are now in search of the man to lead them into the Euro 2016 qualifiers.

    Even though it looked like the coach's departure was a done deal, things have changed in the last few days, and it is now unclear if Susic will be leaving his post.

    This divided public opinion, with some criticising Susic and others defending him for guiding Bosnia to the World Cup finals for the first time in their history.

    Still, in situations like this it is wise to keep an eye on potential new head coaches for the team. Bosnia-Herzegovina begin their Euro 2016 adventure in September, when they play Cyprus at home, and will have to compete with Belgium, Israel, Wales and Andorra for a place in the finals in France.

    Here, we offer the most serious candidates to take over Bosnian team.

Safet Susic, aged 59

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    Francisco Seco/Associated Press

    After the the World Cup group stage, it seemed like Safet Susic's work as Bosnia-Herzegovina boss was over.

    His contract expired on the last day of June and many believed that the Iran match was his last as the manager of the national team, as The Guardian reported.

    Susic was criticised for his team selection, lack of authority over the players and his tactical moves and this reached the pinnacle during the World Cup.

    However, the fact that the team under his guidance has become somewhat stale, does not concern football bosses in Bosnia-Herzegovina.

    But Susic has voiced a desire to stay as national head coach, as BiHFootball noted on its Twitter feed, and he could stay on for the Euro 2016 campaign.

    Susic took over the national team in December 2009 and steered Bosnia to 22 wins and seven draws in 44 matches, the best record of any Bosnia coach.

Dusan Bajevic, aged 65

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    Armando Franca/Associated Press

    Remembered as one of the biggest gentlemen in Bosnian football, Dusan Bajevic is considered to be a legend of Bosnian football club Velez Mostar and AEK Athens in Greece.

    Before turning to coaching career, Bajevic was a prolific striker who represented Yugoslavia at international level.

    He was capped 37 times, and played in the World Cup 1974, where he scored a hat-trick as Yugoslavia beat Zaire 9-0. In total he scored 29 goals for Yugoslavia.

    His first coaching job was with Velez, with whom he won the Yugoslav Cup in 1986. Later he returned to AEK and won four Greek championship titles with them, adding a Greek Cup, League Cup and Super Cup as well.

    He continued his success in Olympiakos, winning four titles and two cups, while in 2001 he celebrated the cup victory with PAOK.

    Bajevic is famed for his strict regime and discipline and is often regarded as one of the representatives of old Yugoslav style of coaching.

Vahid Halilhodzic, aged 61

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    Frank Augstein/Associated Press

    Another product of Velez Mostar, Vahid Halilhodzic was a team-mate of Dusan Bajevic.

    Halilhodzic played for Yugoslavia 15 times, but his biggest international achievement was winning the Under-21 European Championship in 1978, where he was also named the best player of the tournament.

    His coaching career started in France, where he also played for Nantes and PSG.

    He won his first trophy on African soil. In 1998, he celebrated the African Champions league title with Moroccan side Raja Casablanca.

    Under his guidance, Lille turned from survival in the French Second Division to a team that played in the UEFA Champions League. He also worked at PSG, Trabzonspor and Dinamo Zagreb.

    In 2010 he was supposed to take Ivory Coast to the World Cup after a two-year unbeaten run in their qualification campaign. However, his first loss, in extra time of the African Nations Cup clash with Algeria, cost him his job and almost made him drop coaching forever. He returned to Africa, though, and steered Algeria to the last 16 of the World Cup this year.

    However, Halilhodzic seems likely to make a return to club management rather than remain in the international arena.

Sergej Barbarez, aged 42

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    MICHAEL SOHN/Associated Press

    Born in Mostar, Sergej Barbarez moved to Germany in the early 1990s and spent his whole playing career in the Bundesliga.

    He played for Hannover, Hansa, Borussia Dortmund and Bayer Leverkusen but made his name with Hamburg, where he stayed for six years.

    In the meantime, Barbarez also became a superstar in Bosnia, earning the captain's armband for the national team. He remains a fan favourite, not just because he played 47 times and scored 17 goals for his country, but because he refused offers from Croatia and Germany to play for Bosnia.

    Barbarez has now turned his attention to coaching, but his inexperience would count against him as a potential replacement for Susic.

    However, his iconic status among the fans and respect from the Bosnia squad could give him a strong chance for the future. Bosnians are hoping he could be their version of Croatia's Slaven Bilic or Niko Kovac, but Barbarez has a number of opponents among the heads of Football Federation.

    However, he rates highly in polls among fans, and it would not be surprise if he got an offer to take the national team or the youth side in the next campaign.

The Others

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    EuroFootball/Getty Images

    There are a number of coaches who could also join the race to succeed Susic if the Federation makes a change of head coach.

    Faruk Hadzibegic is famous for his penalty miss in the World Cup 1990 quarter finals against Argentina, but he had a successful coaching career after that. In 1999 he was Bosnia-Herzegovina boss, but after he failed to qualify for Euro 2000, he resigned. Since then, he has worked with Real Betis, Troyes, Dijon, Bastia and others.

    Mehmed Bazdarevic is also often mentioned as a possible candidate, after his spells with Grenoble and Sochaux in France.

    The Bosnian FA unfairly sacked former Barcelona striker Meho Kodro after only three matches in 2008 after he refused to lead the team in a friendly against Iran, as FIFA.com reported, so it is hard to expect his return soon.

    Names from Serbia and Croatia are often mentioned, and it would not be a surprise if someone like Robert Prosinecki entered the minds of the governing body.