Vedad Ibisevic: Bosnia v Lithuania 2013
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Words from Sasa Ibrulj
I have followed the Bosnian national team since day one, my old man took me to the first home match played just months after the war. In years that followed we had some good players, good teams, but we never managed to qualify for a major tournament. Bosnia was always very close, but failed at the very last step and the frustration that grew over the years was huge. We were close in 2003, but drew with Denmark. We were close in 2005, but lost to Serbia. We were close in 2009, but lost to Portugal. Then Paris, another play-off with Portugal... >In the 2014 World Cup Qualifiers Bosnia-Herzogovina played good, but to qualify we had to beat Lithuania away in the last match. It was a cold night in Kaunas, the stadium was packed with Bosnian fans from all around the world. But we played poorly.
After an hour I was sure we were failing again; when Lazio's Senad Lulic's goal was disallowed for offside. I thought "that's it, we are blowing this again". But then Medunjanin stole a ball in Lithuania's half; Pjanic passed to Misimovic and he found Dzeko on the left side. He dribbled past one and passed into the box for Ibisevic to tap in. For a brief second I could not believe it. The press box in Kaunas is very small; I jumped so high that I hit the roof and injured my hand. I was typing the report and the blood was all over the place, but I could not care less. After the final whistle all of the Bosnian journalists somehow ended up on the pitch, celebrating with the players. We qualified for the World Cup; we celebrated in Kaunas that night and more than 50,000 people welcomed the players home in the streets of Sarajevo. It was the best night of our lives.
Sasa Ibrulj is a Bosnian football journalist, The Guardian, The Blizzard and ESPN. follow his musings here: twitter.com/sasaibrulj