Bosnians have lofty ambitions

Bosnians have lofty ambitions

Bosnians have lofty ambitions

Most teams heading to their maiden World Cup would probably be happy just to be there, but Bosnia want more from a talented squad who stormed through qualifying to reach their first major tournament as an independent nation.

With Edin Dzeko and Vedad Ibisevic scoring 18 of the team’s 30 goals to form one of the most prolific strike partnerships in qualifying, Bosnia will fancy their chances against Group F rivals Argentina, African champions Nigeria and Iran.

While getting a result against the Argentines in their opening match at Rio de Janeiro’s Maracana stadium may be a tall order, the side coached by former Yugoslavia forward Safet Susic have every chance of reaching the knockout stages.

Susic and most of his players say that reaching the last 16 is a minimum requirement for a team boasting Dzeko and Ibisevic up front and AS Roma playmaker Miralem Pjanic, Lazio winger Senad Lulic and Hoffenheim's Sejad Salihovic.

The defence is the weaker part of Bosnia’s side and a lack of depth may also hurt them as the tournament wears on, with Susic acknowledging after qualifying that he has few first class experienced back-ups to choose from.

The 59-year-old coach, who hit 21 goals in 54 internationals and is widely considered one of the most gifted forwards to have come from the former Yugoslavia, may also need to impose iron-fisted discipline in the dressing room.

Normally soft-spoken and ready to humour the media, Susic demonstrated his no-nonsense approach when he blasted Dzeko and captain Emir Spahic for dissent after a 2-0 friendly defeat by Egypt in Innsbruck in March.

Both players bemoaned the omission of close friend Senijad Ibricic from the squad while Dzeko asked to come off at halftime but was made to play 90 minutes by Susic who later told reporters the Manchester City forward needed to realise who was in charge.

The coach also made it clear he did not want his players to rest on their laurels after receiving a royal reception in Sarajevo following a 1-0 victory in Lithuania in October that sealed their World Cup berth.

Known as a player who produced his best football under pressure, Susic must instil the same kind of grit and determination in his entertaining unit but they have the potential to become one of the tournament's surprise packages.