10 Defining Moments in Bosnia and Herzegovina's 2014 World Cup Campaign

Sasa Ibrulj@sasaibruljCorrespondent IJuly 10, 2014

10 Defining Moments in Bosnia and Herzegovina's 2014 World Cup Campaign

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    After considering the positives and negatives from the World Cup, the Bosnian Football Federation has decided to offer a new contract to Safet Susic.

    The former PSG legend took over the national team in 2009 and became the first coach to steer the team to a major tournament, and the governing body has decided to give him another chance.

    However, Bosnia and Herzegovina's first World Cup will never be forgotten for several reasons: Edin Dzeko's disallowed goal, poor tactical moves in the Nigeria match and many other things will be discussed for years to come.

    Here Bleacher Report brings you the 10 defining moments of Bosnia and Herzegovina's 2014 World Cup campaign.

Preparations for the World Cup

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    Bosnia and Herzegovina were the only debutants in this World Cup, and they acted like that from the beginning until the end.

    After celebrating qualification back in October, the Federation and the team started to prepare themselves for the biggest challenge in their history, but it seemed that they were not aware of the responsibility.

    Poor performances in friendlies against Argentina and Egypt saw the fans question Susic, and he did not help himself with some strange team choices.

    Susic also decided to prepare the team in Sarajevo instead of newly built modern training centre in Zenica.

Kolasinac’s Own Goal vs. Argentina

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    Nineteen years of waiting for the first appearance in the major tournament ended on 15 June, when Bosnia and Herzegovina played Argentina in the Maracana Stadium.

    However, the excitement turned into a cold shower just three minutes after the kick-off. Bosnian defenders failed to clear Lionel Messi's free-kick, and the ball hit Sead Kolasinac and rolled past the helpless Asmir Begovic.

    After that, it seemed like a perfect set-up for total disaster. The Dragons looked lost, struggling to stop any of the Argentina attacks, piling up the mistakes and missing passes.

    Considering the tradition and mentality that Bosnians have—being dependable on psychological approach—it would not have been a surprise if they had fallen apart that night.

    But the team reacted well, showed maturity and did not allow the own goal to ruin the tournament for them.

Vedad Ibisevic’s Goal vs. Argentina

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    Lionel Messi was the one who made the difference in the opening match, scoring a masterpiece goal that decided the contest, but Ibisevic's late goal was much more than a consolation. 

    It was a symbolic first goal in the World Cup and arrived via the player who scored the decisive strike in the qualifiers.

    Stuttgart's striker Vedad Ibisevic booked his place in the history books and will always be remembered as the first goalscorer for Bosnia and Herzegovina in a World Cup finals, no matter that the game ended in defeat.

    The goal also changed the perception of the loss for the Bosnians. Even though they lost to Argentina, they were satisfied with their performance and resilience against one of the best teams in the world.

Susic's Tactics vs. Nigeria

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    If the Argentina match was historic because of the fact that it was first, the Nigeria match was supposed to be the most important.

    A point would have been enough for the Dragons to keep faith that they would advance to the knockout stage, but they lost and packed their bags earlier than expected. 

    Coach Safet Susic is partly to blame for this. He was heavily criticized after the match for the tactical set-up that basically played to Nigeria's greatest strengths.

    He left his only left-back Sead Kolasinac on the bench, moving natural winger Senad Lulic into his position. He also introduced veteran Zvjezdan Misimovic on the left side of the midfield in 4-2-3-1. However, Misimovic—as a classic No. 10—moved in to the middle, forcing Lulic to come out and leave a huge space on the left side.

    That was the side where most of the Nigerian threats came from, including the decisive goal in the 1-0 win.

Edin Dzeko's Disallowed Goal vs. Nigeria

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    This was the most memorable moment for Bosnia and Herzegovina in the 2014 World Cup—and not for good reasons.

    Edin Dzeko easily escaped his Nigerian markers and converted Zvjezdan Misimovic's pass. Bosnia celebrated the goal, butafter deliberation—referee Peter O'Leary called the goal offside and disallowed it

    Television replays clearly showed that the Manchester City star was onside, buteven though he was perfectly positionedthe linesman decided to rule the goal out.

    Instead of celebration, the match turned the other way and Bosnia and Herzegovina lost.

Dzeko's post vs. Nigeria

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    Even though Safet Susic failed with his tactics and reactions in the Nigeria match and the decisions were unkind to Bosnia and Herzegovina, the Dragons were on the verge of claiming a point. 

    In the closing minutes, Bosnia and Herzegovina pressed the Nigerians, forcing them to defend.

    The best chance came deep into stoppage time, when Dzeko managed to catch a long pass on his chest and fire in a shot.

    Nigeria goalkeeper Vincent Enyeama reacted at the last second to deflect the ball on to the post, and that was the end of Bosnian hopes in this World Cup.

Susic Surprised by Nigeria's 'Speed and Mobility'

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    Safet Susic is not a man of many words, but his quote after the loss to Nigeria appeared to symbolise how Bosnia and Herzegovina had failed to prepare fully in the World Cup.

    "Nigeria deserved this win and I congratulate them. It was the match we expected, open and attacking from both teams. However, Nigeria surprised us with their speed and mobility," Susic said after the match.

    Susic appears to have judged Nigeria by their poor performance against Iran and was surprised by two things that are traditionally advantages of Nigeria team.

Partial silenzio stampa for Bosnian media

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    Even though the media created the picture of harmony in the Bosnian team, things have been a bit different in Brazil.

    Just after the loss to Egypt back in February, some members of the Bosnian media criticised sections of the team, including captain Emir Spahic, which caused some conflict.

    The captain spoke to the Bosnian media only in the official press conferences and refused to stop in the mixed zone. His example was followed by some other players, including Edin Dzeko.

    Obvious tensions between some players and journalists contributed to an atmosphere around the team, and this issue is yet to be solved by Susic, who decided not to interfere.

Poor Performances from Veteran Players

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    Bosnians expected a lot from their most experienced players, captain Emir Spahic, midfielder Zvjezdan Misimovic and Edin Dzeko, but the three of them failed to deliver. 

    Spahic, 33, who plays for Bayer Leverkusen in the Bundesliga, was at fault for Nigeria's winning goal, and his performances in the matches against Argentina and Nigeria were disappointing.

    It was a similar situation with midfielder Zvjezdan Misimovic, while Dzeko left a mixed impression on the finals, having some good periods in the three group matches and being unlucky against Nigeria.

Historic Win over Iran

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    The final group match against Iran left a bittersweet taste among Bosnians. The first-ever World Cup finals win was celebrated as a historic moment, but it also proved that the team had the potential to achieve much more. 

    Still, the general feeling is that the performance against Iran left a positive impact on this team and will be helpful for the future.

    The Bosnian Federation decided to keep Susic for the Euro 2016 qualifiers, which start in September, and he'll have to make some serious changes before it starts.

    However, the Iran match proved that this Bosnia and Herzegovina has the ability to become a regular at major tournaments.