Population: 3.8 million
Area: 51,209 sq km
Federation: Bosnia-Herzegovina Football Federation founded in 1992 affiliated to FIFA in 1996 and to Uefa in 1998
Registered players: 69,040
Kit colours: All white
Team nickname: Zmajevi (Dragons)
World Cup record: None
European Championships appearances: 0
European Championships record: None
How they qualified for FIFA World Cup 2014: Won group G with 25pts ahead of Greece on 25pts, Slovakia 13, Lithuania 11, Latvia 8 and Liechstenstein 2, with 8 wins 1 draw, 1 defeat, 30 goals for and 6 against
Top clubs: Zeljeznicar Sarajevo, Borac Banja Luka, Celik Zenica
Bosnia-Herzegovina feel their task is already complete having merely qualified for their first international finals, meaning the Dragons (the Zmajevi) can go out and play at Brazil 2014 without pressure.
Bosnia won independence from the former Yugoslavia in 1992 and had come close twice previously to making the cut only to lose in the play-offs against Portugal for both the 2010 World Cup and Euro 2012.
It was a close call again this time as Bosnia beat Lithuania 1-0 in their last match to finish level top on points with Greece in group G.
A better goal difference of 24 to Greece’s eight thanks to some heavy victories secured them direct qualification and sent the nation’s ardent soccer fans into seventh heaven.
This offensive style of play mirrors the vision of their coach Safet Susic, a former international with Yugoslavia.
“We always play like that (attacking). I wouldn’t know how to set up one of these teams with seven defensive players in it waiting for the odd counter-attack. That’s not football as I see it.”
Bosnia landed in a weak qualifying group as other than Greece, neither Slovakia, Lithuania, Latvia nor Liechtenstein gave them a real run and in fact they only conceded 6 goals during the qualifiers.
Bosnia’s dazzling strength is the power of its forwards. In Edin Dzeko they possess a veritable battering ram of a striker and it was not only the ten goals he got in qualifying but the manner with which he went after those goals that would strike fear into opposition defences.
Vedad Ibesevic also slammed home eight goals as Bosnia won eight of their ten games, drawing in Greece and losing at home to Slovakia.
Bosnia’s Stoke City ‘keeper Asmir Begovic is well regarded as is the national captain Emir Spahic, 33, and who plays at Bayer Leverkusen.
The deep lying playmaker is Miralem Pjanic, a 24-year-old who plies his trade at AS Roma. He is backed up by veteran of Bayern Munich Zvjezdan Misimovic, who now plays out in China however with Guizhou Renhe.
All this gives vague hope of national reconciliation to a country riven with ethnic tension, with battle scars still livid from the civil war featuring years of snipers stationed in the hills around Sarajevo.
Roughly 40 percent of the population of Bosnia is Muslim, 30 percent Serb and 15 percent Croat, with the rest from other ethnic backgrounds.
Most of the players in the national team are Muslims, with a sprinkling of the other two ethnicities, leading most Serbs and Croats to consider it a “Muslim” team.
Hopefully that stance will soften thanks to this thrilling World Cup adventure. AFP