Our World Cup adventure is over. Cut short by the naivety, inexperience, and utter incompetence of our soon to be former manager, Safet Susic. As soon as I saw his bizarre and unbalanced lineup, I tweeted my congratulations to our Nigerian opponents. Then I told my father to prepare himself for a loss and early elimination from our first major tournament.
I won’t waste time analyzing Susic’s many unforgivable errors; there is already plenty of that online and there will be plenty more to come. All I will say is that I sincerely hope this bumbling fool will never have anything to do with Bosnian-Herzegovinian football again. The real question is, where do we go from here? How to move forward and best prepare for the Euro 2016 qualifications? That’s all that matters now.
A SERIOUS MANAGER
Our FA will have to make a decision soon. Who is the right man take this team to the next level?
Vahid “Vaha” Halilhodzic is probably the most respected and sensible choice. Vaha has plenty of managerial experience, both in international and club football; he led Ivory Coast and Algeria to the World Cup; won the CAF Champions League with Raja Casablanca; took Lille OSC from the second tier of French football to 3rd place in Ligue 1, and won the Coupe de France with PSG in 2004.
Dusan Bajevic has already been rumored as a replacement for Susic. Bajevic does not have any international experience but has been successful in club football, particularly in Greece. The “Prince from the Neretva” has won the Greek Championship eight times with two different clubs, not to mention his six cup trophies. Bajevic is part of the ‘normalization committee’ created to run the Bosnian FA and save it from FIFA suspension.
Sergej Barbarez is the popular and “patriotic” candidate. The former Bosnian captain made his name in the Bundesliga and was one of the first post-independence footballers to earn legendary status among Bosnian fans. It is undeniable that he was a great leader on the pitch, but it remains to be seen how that would translate to his management career. Barbarez might provide much needed inspiration to the squad and a more modern approach, but his lack of experience makes him a very risky choice.
Slaven Bilic, Meho Kodro, Vladimir Petkovic, Faruk Hadzibegic, Mehmed Bazdarevic, and many other names have been thrown around by fans since our elimination. Most of these are either wrong or unrealistic or unavailable.
I won’t act like I know the perfect choice, because no manager is perfect, but what we need is an experienced professional to instil real discipline into our squad. Most importantly we need a coach with tactical intelligence because that is what we currently lack the most.
My choice is Halilhodzic. I believe he has the qualities we desperately need right now.
After so many years of loyal service, it’s hard to imagine a Bosnian team sheet without the names Spahic and Misimovic. The reality, however, is that they will be gone soon. Spahic will be 35 by Euro 2016, and Misimovic, while still technically gifted, does not have the physical condition to be a starter anymore. Their best years are behind them. We simply can’t rely on them anymore.
Others, like Anel Hadzic, inexplicably appeared in the national team shortly before the World Cup, despite doing nothing to deserve the honor, and need to be removed as soon as possible. Vrsajevic is another example. These players are just not good enough for a team that wants to leave a strong impression at a major tournament.
Promising young talents such as Dino Arslanagic (Standard Liege) and Sanjin Prcic (Sochaux) will fill their spots nicely. Armin Hodzic should be considered as a third choice striker. A serious effort should be made to bring in Branimir Hrgota before we lose him to Sweden or Croatia. Others such as Semir Stilic, Mario Vrancic, Nermin Zolotic, Jasmin Scuk, Emir Dilaver, Eldin Hadzic, and Ermin Zec also deserve a chance. If nothing else, they might prove good enough to improve our depth.
THE NEXT CAPTAIN
With Spahic and Misimovic on their way to retirement, the general expectation is that Dzeko will become the next captain, having already worn the arm band when the two veterans were not available.
Some will brand me a blasphemer but in my opinion Dzeko is not a leader. It’s not that he would be terrible, but there are less moody players who would be more suited for the role — players such as Asmir Begovic. Begovic is a disciplined professional who never seems to lose his cool and preforms with almost inhuman consistency. He will demand the same from his teammates.
My second choice is Pjanic. He has proven he is a genuinely special player who can command the midfield, create chances, score goals both from open play and set pieces, defend, tackle, and everything in between. He could become our Gerrard.
We have been given a qualifying group from which we must qualify for the final tournament in France. There is no traditional powerhouse team to oppose us. Belgium will be our biggest obstacle and we don’t even have to finish first in order to qualify directly. Failure is not an option. We must learn from our World Cup experience and never again allow ourselves to so cheaply give up everything we have dreamed of for years.
We should never again leave a tournament feeling like we beat ourselves. It is not acceptable that teams who have inferior players have made a better impression than us. Every team loses and so will we, it is inevitable, but how you lose matters. It matters a lot.