The Bosnia & Herzegovina team of 2014 are flying the flag for the tiny Balkan nation.
This is the first World Cup the Bosnians will compete in as a single entity after being a part of the Yugoslavia sides of the distant past.
Safet Susic’s outfit were more than solid throughout their qualifying campaign, finishing on top of their group, with a healthy goal difference of plus 24 having scored 30 goals in their 10 matches.
It will be a celebration of sorts for the Bosnian people who have so long hoped to see a team of their own represent them on the world stage, and in Brazil, they get the opportunity to look on with pride.
The Zmajevi (Dragons) have a great chance to announce themselves to the world by qualifying for the knockout stages which would be a stunning achievement given the inexperience of the team at such a high-status event.
Bosnia & Herzegovina
Manager: Safet Susic
Fixtures: Argentina - June 15 (Rio de Janeiro), Nigeria - June 21 (Cuiaba), Iran - June 25 (Salvador)
Past outings against group opponents: Bosnia have played the Argentines twice for two losses. The latest meeting was a 2-0 friendly defeat in November 2013.
Bosnia and Nigeria have never met at international senior level.
The Bosnians have taken on Iran on five occasions for four losses and a draw. The most recent encounter resulted in a 3-2 friendly loss in Sarajevo in 2009.
World Cup utopia: Reaching the knockout phase would be a definite success while anything more would be seen as a massive achievement.
Doomsday scenario: Finishing bottom of the group below Iran.
Qualified by virtue of: Finishing top of UEFA Group G qualifying.
There are some seriously classy players within the Bosnian World Cup squad.
City star Dzeko will lead the line in attack and will be assisted by Ibisevic who knocked in 15 goals for Stuttgart last season. Those two will be heavily relied upon to hit the back of the net as was evidenced by the qualifying campaign when combining for 18 of the 30 goals.
Pulling the strings in midfield will be veteran Zvjezdan Misimovic, who plays his club football in China, while there will be support from the likes of Roma midfielder Miralem Pjanic, Lazio’s Senad Lulic and Hoffenheim’s Sejad Salihovic.
The defence, which conceded just six goals in qualifying, is led by influential skipper Spahic who guides a well-organised and cohesive ‘team within a team’ which sits in front of talented goalkeeper Begovic.
National legend Susic has before him a well-drilled, discplined line-up who are underrated on the world stage and will take a power of beating in the group stages.
Bosnia are certainly capable of getting the better of both Nigeria and Iran, and making life difficult for Argentina, before looking on to a possible Round of 16 clash with France.
Prediction: Round of 16.
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