No Miralem Pjanic, no Edin Dzeko, no problem for Bosnia and Herzegovina. Even without the mercurial Roma midfielder and the €32m Manchester City striker, Safet Susic’s side comfortably saw off Brazilian club Santos U-21s 5-1 in an unofficial friendly on Monday – their last before the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil™. It was the Bosnians’ fourth successive victory and will send them into Group F high on confidence.
Following the game, FIFA.com caught up with Susic to discuss the performance at the Vila Belmiro, the fitness of Pjanic and Dzeko, and his plans to combat Lionel Messi in Bosnia and Herzegovina’s opener against Argentina.
Safet, were you pleased with your team’s performance in the victory over Santos U-21s?
Safet Susic: I think it wasn't bad at all. It was a good match, with many opportunities for both sides, many goals, many beautiful pieces of play. I think we should be satisfied.
Have the recent results boosted Bosnia and Herzegovina’s confidence?
Definitely, definitely. The self-confidence we had lost after the two defeats has come back. The boys are now, evidently, in a very good mood. During the matches they even tried out some things that they had previously practised with fear. It is evident that they played in a relaxed way, that the [recent] results have helped to regain self-confidence, to bring the morale to a high level.
It is a dilemma for me, but to sacrifice a player just to man-mark Messi, I don't think it would be good for us.
What is the state of Pjanic’s and Dzeko’s fitness?
Nobody is seriously injured. The four players I spared was to not take any risks. Dzeko is not even injured, he is just a bit tired. The other three players, they have minor injuries. If the match against Argentina was tomorrow, everybody would be ready.
Do you plan to man-mark Lionel Messi?
It is a dilemma for me, but to sacrifice a player just to man-mark Messi, I don't think it would be good for us. We have a player who would be ideal for man-marking Messi – this player is [Muhamed] Besic – but this guy is so well prepared physically that it wouldn’t be good for us to make him track Messi. Messi sometimes stands for several minutes, not participating in the match. It would therefore be a shame to sacrifice a player [to mark him]. Messi will probably enjoy plenty of freedom, but each time he gets the ball, somebody needs to be near him. But I don't think we have ever played a match having dedicated a player to man-mark a specific opponent, and it’s going to be the same [against Argentina].