Football Friends Online – When 90 Mins Is Not EnoughIbisevic strike seals historical night for Bosnia - Football Friends Online - When 90 Mins Is Not Enough Ibisevic strike seals historical night for Bosnia - Football Friends Online - When 90 Mins Is Not Enough

Ibisevic strike seals historical night for Bosnia

10,000 fans were sent into delirium on Tuesday night in the central square of Sarajevo as Bosnia and Herzegovina’s footballers sealed a first ever appearance at the World Cup finals – this is exactly what football’s greatest tournament is about.

This a nations whose people have suffered so much in recent times, at the hands of  the devastating Bosnian war in the early 1990’s and the continued social and economic problems that have plagued the country for so long as a result. Yet Vedad Ibisevic’s goal midway through the second half of their final qualifier against Lithuania which ensured their passage, brought previously unheralded joy to the country.  

The Bosnian’s have in recent years played the bridesmaid role down to perfection when it comes for qualification for major tournaments, having missed out on play-offs to Portugal for both Euro 2012 and South Africa 2010. Brazil though has proved a case of third time lucky, finally being handed a kind draw after having to contend with Spain in 2010 and France in 2012, the Bosnian’s took full advantage to hold off Greece and seal their World Cup bow.

It had appeared four games ago that with history in their grasp they would stumble as they fell to defeat at home to Slovakia – a result that let the clinical Greeks back in. As they trailed the Slovaks in the following fixture with just 20 minutes to go another near miss looked on the agenda, however they showed tremendous character and resilience to come back and win that game – in the process keeping things in their own hands. That result left Bosnia knowing wins over Liechtenstein and Lithuania would be enough to complete the job, the first part came fairly easily given Liechtenstein’s whipping status in the group. Things though got particularly nervy in Kaunas, as you might expect given the scale of what was at stake. At half time Bosnia were looking set to miss out, with Lithuania proving stubborn opposition and that remained the case until the 68th minute – at which point Ibisevic scored Bosnia’s most important goal.

At the whistle Safet Sucic’s side were drawn to tears arm in arm, overcome by the magnitude of what they had done and just what an impact it would have on the overall population. We are so often told international football no longer matters, but quite clearly this will be the defining moment in the careers of those who achieved this success. As the dust settled the public flocked to Sarajevo airport to welcome their new heroes, without question these players will never feeler a prouder moment during their careers – no matter what they may go on to win in the domestic game.

At home full time drew wild scenes of celebrations, with Bosnian’s at least momentarily broken from the strangleholds of unemployment, difficult living conditions and ongoing political problems. Football in the modern day draws so many criticism and quite often rightly so, yet there are few things that can unite a nation and bring such joy like this game can. Reasons to celebrate have been few and far between for the people of Bosnia, their footballer’s though have finally brought them a long overdue reason for cheer.

As the night progressed players and public partied together through to the early hours, with Sarajevo draped in a sea of blue and gold. The multi-billion pound industry football has becomes means it is often accused of losing it routes – here though we can witness just what an impact it can have.

It does not matter how they get on in Brazil, just being there and the buzz that will create within the country is enough. In truth they do have the capacity to provide further special nights back home, given the talents and cohesiveness within the squad. Under Sucic the Dragon’s play in a gloriously attacking manner – an approach which favours their strong attacking talents, most notably the like of Ibisevic, Edin Dzeko, Miralem Pjanic and Zvjezdan Misimovic. But analysing their chances of success next summer is for another day, right now it is time to take in how significant their qualifications achievements are – in a far greater sense than on the football pitch.

Football is undoubtedly only a game – we would do well to remember that in the glitz and glamour of the Premier League. Sometimes though and when it is at its bests, it is a game that can have huge influences outside of the sport – such as in this case. That is not to say Ibisevic’s goal will end of Bosnia’s problems as a nation, far from it, but what it brings is a rare occasion of joy and temporary relief from strife for a nation that has experienced so much hurt.

Some have questioned whether in the modern world the World Cup no longer has its appeal, but the story of Bosnia highlights just why it will always be the greatest tournament on earth – no other trophy within the sport could come close to generating such a reaction. Yes the World Cup is about showcasing the best talent on the planet, but it is also about the mesmerising sub plots, such as this. Tuesday night is one that will live long in the memory of Bosnian’s for all the right reasons, after so many years of pain, this was a night of euphoric positive emotion.