Anyone expecting the wind to have been knocked out of Bosnia and Herzegovina’s sails following their defeat to Argentina in their opening match at the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil™ could not have been more mistaken. At the team’s tournament headquarters there is no trace of frustration or even disappointment, quite the opposite in fact.
If anything, the World Cup debutants’ confident display in the 2-1 reverse to one of the title favourites has given them cause for optimism going forward. “We gave a good account of ourselves in our first game,” Zvjezdan Misimovic told FIFA.com.
Indeed, the playmaker was eager to focus on the positives from the overwhelming experience at the Maracana in Rio de Janeiro. “Of course it was completely uncharted territory for us,” said the 32-year-old, who plays for Guizhou Renhe FC in the Chinese first division. “We shouldn’t have gone behind the way we did with an own goal, but we managed to get back into the game. Generally we wouldn't measure ourselves against a team of Argentina's standing, but if we continue to play as we did against them then we can definitely achieve something here in Brazil.”
Hungry for more
On Sunday coach Safet Susic’s side face Nigeria at the Arena Pantanal in Cuiaba in their second Group F encounter. There, his technically-gifted ensemble will be more eager than ever to record a historic first World Cup victory. To do so, Misimovic is aware of what needs to improve against the dynamic west African outfit: “We’re a very close-knit team and we have a lot of very gifted individuals too. Perhaps we could be more determined in certain situations. If we can do that then I'm sure the fans will continue to enjoy watching us.”
There is also a tangible sense throughout the south-eastern Europeans’ camp that they have a point to prove. As eager as they are to showcase their considerable talents, there is an unshakeable resolve not to leave the pitch without something to show for their efforts this time. Zmajevi (The Dragons) are also spurred on by the prospect of penning the next chapter in their World Cup history, after striker Vedad Ibisevic scored Bosnia and Herzegovina’s maiden tournament goal against Lionel Messi and Co.
“I’m truly delighted for him,” Misimovic said of his team-mate’s strike. “He also scored the decisive goal that meant we qualified to be here in the first place. Nobody is letting their head hang [despite the defeat] and that’s important.”
Ibisevic himself experienced mixed emotions in the wake of his goal, as he revealed to FIFA.com: “It’s an unbelievable feeling for me. First of all even being at a World Cup is indescribable, and then to play at a stadium like that in our opening game against a team like Argentina. On top of that I scored a historic first World Cup goal for Bosnia at the end. It was just a shame that we didn’t end up taking anything from the match. It’s still an amazing feeling though.”
No room for doubt
The game gave the 29-year-old, who plays for Bundesliga club Stuttgart, renewed belief that his side are not at the tournament merely to make up the numbers: “I hope the team have now realised that we can play - even against such opponents [as Argentina]."
Ibisevic’s hunger for success is unmistakable and he is uncompromising in his approach to the team’s forthcoming games: “We want to take more from our next fixtures and we’ve still got a lot of self-confidence.” Given the euphoria running through the Bosnia and Herzegovina camp, it is clear that is no mere lip service.
Being at a World Cup is indescribable, and then to play at a stadium like that in our opening game against a team like Argentina. On top of that I scored a historic first goal.