THE HALF DECENT FOOTBALL MAGAZINE

wsc328 previewWhat are the expectations for the team?
Bosnians were ecstatic when the team qualified, with street celebrations in Sarajevo and elsewhere. There has been lots of talk about this being Bosnia's first tournament, although a number of Bosnian players have featured in previous World Cups as part of multi-ethnic Yugoslav sides.

Is the coach popular?
Safet Susic is a national hero, popular throughout the former Yugoslavia which he represented at two World Cups – Spain 82 and Italia 90. Taking Bosnia to Brazil has increased his stock even further.

Are there any players who have appeared in TV commercials or other advertising?
There was a famously tacky advert for the supermarket chain Konzum, an official sponsor of the Bosnia national team. It features a fellow shopper telling a bemused young man that he looks just like Edin Dzeko. Of course, the trolley pusher in question is Dzeko himself. Team-mates Emir Spahic and Vedad Ibisevic subsequently chip in while queuing at the checkout: "Yes, but he is stronger and more handsome, but please don't take offence."

Are there any players with unusual hobbies or business interests?
Dzeko is Bosnia's Unicef ambassador while Stoke City goalkeeper Asmir Begovic set up his own charitable foundation last year which raises money to build children's recreational facilities in both the UK and Bosnia. As a result of the dislocations of the civil war of the 1990s, as well as the lucrative opportunities offered by European leagues, almost the entire squad is multilingual, with many growing up in diaspora communities. For example, Miralem Pjanic spent much of his youth in Luxembourg and is fluent in six languages.

Is there an official World Cup song?
By far the most interesting is Vatreni Zmajevi (Fiery Dragons) by rapper Ante Cash which aims to unite Bosnia and Croatia supporters. The video features Cash in alternating combinations of national paraphernalia, while he bounces around among socialist-era high-rises and completes a sticker album where players from both squads form a single team. The lyrics include a line about the neighbouring states facing each other in the final at the MaracanĂ£, where they will barbecue lamb and eat baklava together. It is a refreshing alternative to the type of divisive nationalist fare which floods the internet. Dzeko has already expressed his approval by sending Cash a pair of his boots.

What will the media coverage be like?
Radio-Television Bosnia and Herzegovina (BHRT), the national broadcaster, has the official rights. They have already started airing a series of preview programmes about the tournament, filled with samba, panoramic views of Rio and footage of historic matches. However, many Bosnian Serbs and Croats are likely to opt for the coverage offered by neighbouring state broadcasters.

Will there be many fans travelling to the finals and will they have any chants/songs?
The domestic media suggest that Bosnia will have the smallest following, which is not surprising given the dire economic situation in the country. Nevertheless, several thousand are still expected to travel, with the largest contingents coming from the vast diaspora communities of North America and Scandinavia. Even if few in number, the supporters' group BH Fanaticos, among others, are sure to be an audible presence in Brazil. Richard Mills

 

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