Going into their final 2014 World Cup Qualifier against Lithuania, Bosnia and Herzegovina needed to have an equal or better result than Greece to win Group G and ensure qualification to its first-ever major soccer tournament. After a tense first 68 minutes of the game, Vedad Ibisevic scored the game-winning goal to give Bosnia a 1-0 win and with that, ensured that Bosnia will be in Brazil next summer for the 2014 World Cup.
With Bosnia qualifying for the World Cup, many might think it was achieved because they happened to find themselves in a very accessible group and happened to have a number of players who are currently in form. It was a result of years of being close to qualifying for a major tournament and the stewardship of a talented generation of players by the right coach.
Bosnia was close to qualifying for its last two major tournaments (2010 World Cup and UEFA EURO 2012), only being eliminated in the playoffs by Portugal in both occasions. Therefore, it was clear heading into 2014 World Cup Qualifying that they were a team ready to break through and qualify, unlike Belgium who while talented, still had some doubts early on.
When you are a country with the size and infrastructure to develop and nurture talent like that which exists in Bosnia, sometimes you need to be able to take advantage of having a generation of exceptional talents in order to qualify for a major tournament. This has been the case for Bosnia, who can say they have a “golden generation” on their squad. When looking at the current Bosnia roster, you see players like Asmir Begovic, MiralemPjanic, Vedad Ibisevic, Edin Dzeko and Senad Lulic, who are all significant contributors for teams in a major European league.
While it is great to have a talented crop of players, you also need the right coach which will lead them to accomplish World Cup qualification, and Bosnia had that in Safet Susic, who has been in charge of the national team since 2009. Not coincidentally, Bosnia have since developed into the team that it is today.
How well Bosnia perform at the 2014 World Cup will be dependent on which group they are drawn in, and how well their players are doing come tournament time. History shows us that countries in the mold of Bosnia who have qualified for the World Cup have a 50/50 success rate when it comes to qualifying for the knockout stages. Regardless of how they do, their qualification to the World Cup was five years in the making and fully deserved.