Northern Ireland v Bosnia

Official Digital Matchday programme of Northern Ireland v Bosnia and Herzegovina, Saturday 8th September 2018, UEFA Nations League, at the National Football Stadium at Windsor Park.


UEFA Nations League League B Group 3

National Football Stadium At Windsor Park Saturday 08 September 2018 Kick-off 14:00

























Official Publication by Irish Football Association National Football Stadium at Windsor Park, Donegall Avenue, Belfast, BT12 6LW Editor Nigel Tilson Director of Communications Neil Brittain Design and Print Minprint Ltd, 401 Castlereagh Road, Belfast, Co Down, BT5 6QP Tel: 028 9070 5205

Irish Football Association President David Martin Chief Executive Patrick Nelson Advertising Irish Football Association Pictures Press Eye

Please note that the views in this programme do not necessarily reflect those of the Irish Football Association.



Robert Prosinečki Head Coach

Michael O’Neill Manager

Michael McGovern Norwich City Trevor Carson Motherwell Bailey Peacock-Farrell Leeds United Aaron Hughes Heart of Midlothian Gareth McAuley Glasgow Rangers Jonathan Evans Leicester City Craig Cathcart Watford Conor McLaughlin Millwall Patrick McNair Middlesbrough Michael Smith Heart of Midlothian Jamal Lewis Norwich City Steven Davis Southampton Niall McGinn Aberdeen Oliver Norwood Sheffield United* Corry Evans Blackburn Rovers Shane Ferguson Millwall Stuart Dallas Leeds United George Saville Middlesbrough** Jordan Jones Kilmarnock Gavin Whyte Oxford United Kyle Lafferty Glasgow Rangers Josh Magennis Bolton Wanderers Jamie Ward Charlton Athletic*** Conor Washington Sheffield United

Ibrahim Sehic Erzurumspor Kenan Piric Maribor

Vedran Kjosevski Zeljeznicar Ognjen Vranjes Anderlecht Toni Sunjic Dynamo Moscow Ervin Zukanovic Genoa Ermin Bicakcic Hoffenheim Darko Todorovic Red Bull Salzburg Eldar Civic Sparta Prague Bojan Nastic Genk Miralem Pjanic Juventus Edin Visca Istanbul Basaksehir Muhamed Besic Middlesbrough Haris Duljevic Dynamo Dresden Gojko Cimirot Standard Liege Sanjin Prcic Levante Elvis Saric Suwon Bluewings Goran Zakaric Partizan Rade Krunic Empoli Deni Milosevic Konyaspor Edin Dzeko Roma Kenan Kodro Copenhagen Riad Bajic Istanbul Basaksehir

Liam Boyce Burton Albion Will Grigg Wigan Athletic *on loan from Brighton and Hove Albion **on loan from Millwall ***on loan from Nottingham Forest

Green and White

Blue and White


Referee Assistant Referee 1 Assistant Referee 2 Fourth Official Additional Asst Ref 1 Additional Asst Ref 2 Observer

Pavel Královec CZE Ivo Nadvornik CZE Kamil Hajek CZE Jakub Hrabovsky CZE Miroslav Zelinka CZE Karel Hrubes CZE Manuel Diaz Vega ESP



On behalf of the Irish Football Association it gives me great pleasure to welcome the officials, players and supporters of Bosnia and Herzegovina to our National Football Stadium in Belfast for this afternoon’s League B Group 3 game in UEFA’s inaugural Nations League competition.

The FIFA World Cup Russia 2018 is in the past and the autumn games have come around very quickly. Prior to the World Cup, and with future competitive games in mind, there was the opportunity for Northern Ireland to undertake a short tour of Central America, where temperatures in excess of 30c proved a challenge. However, the squad coped as well as could be expected in the heat, drawing with Panama and losing to Costa Rica. This new UEFA competition effectively replaces friendly matches, and unless a Nations League group is made up of three teams all matches are on a competitive basis. Northern Ireland are in a group of three of course – Austria are the other team – so it means there will also be two mandatory friendly games this autumn. Next Tuesday (11 September) we host Israel in the first of those games and in November we travel to play the Republic of Ireland in Dublin. The draw for the Euro 2020 group qualifying stage takes place in Dublin on 2 December with the top two in each group qualifying and the final four places going to the Nations League, replacing the best four third-placed countries as in Euro 2016. That makes every game very important in the quest for 2020 qualification by whichever route possible.

This will be the first meeting between Northern Ireland and Bosnia and Herzegovina in an A international and undoubtedly both managers will be looking to get off to a good start in a series of just four games. Today also provides an opportunity for the Irish FA to mark the 100-cap milestone which Steven Davis reached last November and a special cap has been commissioned for presentation to him this afternoon. Steven is our third centurion following the legendary Pat Jennings (1964-1986) and Aaron Hughes, who won his 100th cap just prior to Euro 2016. The stadiumwill almost be at full capacity for this game - that includes the 98% of Campaign Card holders who renewed their cards - and again it is expected this will help generate a great atmosphere and also encouragement to the players. Thanks to all who have renewed their campaign cards and also to those who have purchased tickets through the general sale, perhaps for the first time. I hope that you all enjoy an exciting game and have a safe journey home. David J Martin President Irish Football Association




It doesn’t seem like five and a half months ago since I wrote my notes for the matchday programme for our friendly international against South Korea. A lot has certainly happened since.

We had two very worthwhile matches in Central America which enabled me to work with some of our younger players in a challenging and testing environment. We have also enjoyed an exciting, and in many ways surprising, World Cup. Who could have imagined that Germany and Argentina would have performed so poorly in Russia? However, the World Cup is now only a memory, another star on the badge of the French international team, so our attention needs to turn to the new UEFA Nations League competition and today’s opponents Bosnia and Herzegovina. While others can analyse in much more detail the various permutations and opportunities which this competition can provide, our constant focus and ambition must be to perform well in every competition. And if we can do that in this Nations League then it can even offer entry to the Euro 2020 finals (regardless of how we perform in the qualifying competition starting in Spring 2019) and better quality matches in its next appearance. I just can’t help it, I hate losing, so I can assure everyone that I will be doing everything I can to continue the team’s great home form at the National Football Stadium.

It’s not a bad track record that the only recent defeats have been against the then world champions (Germany), a World Cup 2018 finalist (Croatia) and Switzerland thanks to a dodgy penalty (least said about that the better). Maintaining the standards we have set for ourselves is key to this. If we play well then all things are possible. This does not mean, of course, that we will be taking our Nations League opponents lightly or that we have not adequately prepared (as they will no doubt not be complacent about us). Bosnia and Herzegovina are a formidable team with very capable players operating in strong European leagues, including the Premier League. We have never played them before at senior level so today we will be making history, and ours is a team of history makers! Today is the first step in the next journey towards the Euros. Everyone needs to be totally focused and committed. If we retain that commitment then, as we know, anything is possible. Enjoy the match and thanks for your continued support. Michael O’Neill Northern Ireland Manager



Welcome to the National Football Stadium at Windsor Park for an historic event - our first ever game in the new UEFA Nations League.

The UEFA Nations League is designed to give countries more competitive games by reducing the number of international dates available for friendlies - and has two strong selling points. Firstly, it matches together countries who are roughly at the same standard, so all games should be close and competitive. Secondly, it offers an alternative route to qualify for UEFA Euro 2020 should we not make it through the normal route of the European Qualifiers, which will themselves take place throughout 2019. So the new competition starts here, and our first opponents are Bosnia and Herzegovina. Today will be the first time we have played against this country and we welcome them to Belfast. One thing you will see today but perhaps not notice is that over the summer we have invested around £125,000 in adding a carpet of fibres to the stadium pitch to give it more durability. More than 7000 square metres of fibre carpet was laid on the pitch before we covered the surface with sand and grass seed to grow this season’s new pitch. All in all the pitch is now 95% natural grass and 5% fibre, and we hope that this new mix will allow the pitch to stand up to the rigours of a Northern Ireland winter and the amount of usage we expect from it. Investing in our new stadium will be a never-ending process as we want to make this stadium the best it can be.

Talking of the best, we were delighted and very proud to be able to transform our National Football Stadium into a boxing arena last month for the Carl Frampton boxing bill. It had been Carl’s desire to perform here for a long time and his dream turned into a tremendous occasion for all present. Lots of work from multiple partners went in to the transformation of the stadium and more than 22,000 spectators packed in on the night to see Carl do what he does best. For us, as well as providing an unforgettable evening of entertainment, it proved the concept that the stadium can be used for significant non-football events so we hope it will be the first of many such occasions. Finally, in case you haven’t got your ticket yet, or you know someone who wants to come here and watch Northern Ireland play but doesn’t think they can obtain a ticket, we are not yet sold out for the friendly match against Israel on Tuesday night. Due to the nature of international football our senior men’s team only get to play in Belfast on a few occasions each year, and we all know that Michael, Steven and the squad get a great lift from the atmosphere generated by the GAWA, so if you can make it please head to and book your seat. Enjoy the match today.

Patrick Nelson Chief Executive Irish Football Association



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Norwich City


Leeds United

Heart of Midlothian

Age Caps Goals 34 28 0

Age Caps Goals 30 3 0

Age Caps Goals 21 1 0

Age Caps Goals 38 112 1









Glasgow Rangers

Leicester City



Age Caps Goals 38 79 9

Age Caps Goals 30 70 2

Age Caps Goals 29 36 2

Age Caps Goals 27 33 1












Heart of Midlothian Age Caps Goals 29 1 0



Norwich City

Age Caps Goals 23 20 0

Age Caps Goals 20 1 0

Age Caps Goals 33 101 10

Age Caps Goals 31 53 3










Sheffield United*

Blackburn Rovers


Leeds United

Age Caps Goals 27 53 0

Age Caps Goals 28 47 1

Age Caps Goals 27 35 1

Age Caps Goals 27 30 2

*on loan from Brighton & Hove Albion











Oxford United

Glasgow Rangers

Age Caps Goals 25 5 0

Age Caps Goals 23 2 0

Age Caps Goals 22 0 0

Age Caps Goals 30 67 20

**on loan from Millwall



Sheffield United Age Caps Goals 26 17 3 CONOR WASHINGTON FORWARD Club







Bolton Wanderers

Charlton Athletic

Burton Albion

Wigan Athletic

Age Caps Goals 28 38 4

Age Caps Goals 32 33 4

Age Caps Goals 27 13 1

Age Caps Goals 27 10 1

*** on loan from Nottingham Forest


Words Darren Fullerton Daily Mirror

SAVILLE IS DETERMINED TO MAKE A POSITIVE CONTRIBUTION GOING FORWARD George Saville is keen to repay Michael O’Neill’s faith in him by establishing himself as a key player in Northern Ireland’s UEFA Nations League and Euro 2020 campaigns.

“He’s put a tremendous amount of faith and trust in me from day one and that makes me want to do the very best I can for him and the country. “I look forward to every time we meet up together as a squad and I’m always determined to contribute and do my best for the team if selected.” It has been a bit of a whirlwind journey in green so far for Saville who was a surprise addition to Michael O’Neill’s panel at the tail end of the 2018 World Cup qualifying campaign. The 25-year-old, who began his career at Chelsea, won the first of his five caps from the bench in the 3-1 home defeat to Germany last October. He also experienced the high drama of a World Cup play-off against Switzerland, making his first start

O’Neill recently branded the Middlesbrough midfielder, who made his international debut just 11 months ago, an “important” component of his plans going forward. And that’s music to the ears of Saville, who is relishing the challenge of nailing down a regular starting slot in the team’s engine room. “It makes me want to do the best I can for the team,” said the Surrey-born playmaker who qualifies to play for Northern Ireland through his Enniskillen-born grandmother. “Obviously I was a little bit late into the set-up, but I’ve loved every minute of my time with Northern Ireland and Michael has been absolutely fantastic to me.





in the scoreless draw in Basel, a result that confirmed a 1-0 aggregate win for the Swiss, who qualified for the finals in Russia. “We did really well in Basel and were just a fraction short of being at the World Cup,” said Saville. The midfielder also revealed he holds special memories of his debut against the Germans. “That is the one that stands out as a highlight for me and it always will,” he said. “At the time it doesn’t really sink in, however it’s quite surreal to think I made my international debut against Germany, the reigning world champions at that time. “I can remember getting warmed up and preparing to come on, but it’s just surreal looking back. To make my debut against these superstars of world football was incredible. “It will always be special to say I made my debut against the Germans in Belfast as opposed to away to - no disrespect - a smaller nation.” Saville, who recently joined Boro from Millwall (initially on a loan deal but set to become permanent in January), is relishing today’s Nations League kick-off against Bosnia and Herzegovina. Playing in a three-team group that also includes Austria, UEFA’s new-look competition offers a potential, if slightly complicated and circuitous, backdoor route to Euro 2020. “It is slightly confusing, I’m not going to lie,” smiled Saville. “I’m probably one of the ones that doesn’t understand it fully, but we’ve just got to take it game by game. “We’ve got to concentrate on Bosnia and Herzegovina and do what we can to get off to a positive start. Our focus is on trying to win games of football. “If we look after that then the system will look after itself. Bosnia will be tough opponents, however Michael will ensure we’ve done our homework. We will be fully prepared.”

Position Central Midfielder Date Of Birth 01.06.1993 Place Of Birth Camberley GEORGE SAVILLE


Height 176cm Weight 73kg

Caps 5 Goals 0 INTERNATIONAL RECORD 20 Debut 05.10.17 v Germany (H) Lost 1-3 SQUAD NO CLUBS Chelsea 40 Wolverhampton Wanderers 50 Bristol City (loan) 7 Millwall (loan) 12 Millwall 44 Middlesbrough (loan) 0 32 SQUAD NO CLUB RECORD 0 3 Millwall (loan) Brentford (loan)



Words Marshall Gillespie

Chris Brunt has announced his retirement from international football and is not in the squad for today’s game. Northern Ireland manager Michael O’Neill said he will be sorely missed but understands his reasons for opting out. Here we look back at the highs and lows of the talented midfielder’s time playing for his country.

Lawrie Sanchez was the manager when Brunt made his international debut in a scoreless draw versus Switzerland in Zurich in August 2004. Amazingly his last appearance in a green shirt also came against the Swiss last November when Northern Ireland drew 0-0 in Basel in the second leg of a World Cup 2018 play-off.

Brunt’s first 10 appearances for his country came when he was at Sheffield Wednesday. The remaining 55 were made while he was a West Bromwich Albion player, making him the Baggies’

most capped international.

As a youth Brunt won eight under-19 caps, scoring three goals, against Andorra, Wales and Georgia respectively. He also represented Northern Ireland once at under-23 level and played twice for the under-21s where he scored one goal in a 2-1 victory over Scotland at the Oval.

In his 65 full internationals Brunt was on the winning side on 19 occasions. He tasted defeat in a green shirt 24 times, while the remaining 22 games ended in draws.

All three of Brunt’s goals for Northern Ireland were scored in World Cup qualifying matches. His first came in a 3-0 success against San Marino in February 2009. He had to wait over seven years before he claimed his second though in a 4-0 victory over Azerbaijan at the National Stadium. His third, and undoubtedly his best, came when he curled home a sublime free-kick in the 2-0 win against the Czech Republic in Belfast last September.


Brunt started 55 of his 65 full internationals and was a substitute on 10 occasions, He played the full 90 minutes in 35 of his 65 games for his country and was an unused substitute only three times, one of them being the night Northern Ireland famously beat England 1-0 in Belfast.

Twenty-nine of Brunt’s full caps

came under current boss Michael O’Neill, 10 of which ended in victory, 10 in draws and nine in defeat.

Brunt’s only ever red card while playing for Northern Ireland came in the 4-2 defeat to Portugal in a World Cup qualifier at Windsor Park in September 2013. After picking up a booking in the first half Brunt received his second yellow card of the evening in the 61st minute when Northern Ireland were winning the game 2-1! A 15-minute hat-trick from Cristiano Ronaldo secured a 4-2 victory for the visitors.

Brunt weighed in with eight assists during his 14-year international career. Three of them led to goals for his then club colleague Gareth McAuley in games against Serbia, Faroe Islands and Azerbaijan. He also provided two for Kyle Lafferty while the remainder led to goals from Warren Feeney, Steven Davis and Jamie Ward.

In total Brunt was yellow carded on 13 occasions for Northern Ireland. His first ever booking was in a 2-1 Euro 2008 qualifying contest versus Iceland in Reykjavik while his last came in his final international against Switzerland last November.


Words William Campbell


I have always liked our September home international matches. Not quite sure why exactly, although there is perhaps something therapeutic about getting back to the international stage just as the summer dies.

Of course an analysis of the facts will show that not all September games have resulted in wins. Defeat and disappointment will remain to be part of the September story as well. However their existence merely serves to provide a striking counterpoint to the elation of victory and triumph. Who wants to remember Eidur Gudjohnsen destroying us a few days prior to that famous 3-2 victory over Spain? It is much better to remember the battling triumph over the dogged Azerbaijanis thanks to Stuart Elliott’s free-kick and Warren Feeney’s penalty that beat a path to the glorious 1-0 victory over England. So tonight we start a new competition, forge a new history. It is our first game in the new UEFA Nations League and our first senior international game against Bosnia and Herzegovina. Regardless of the outcome we will have broken our duck in both cases. Let us hope that September 2018 will remain emblazoned on our memories for many years.

And, of course, we can look forward to the crisp autumn nights and another exciting football season after a barren month or two for the international side. Perhaps it is the sense that, in those early September weeks, summer is not quite gone, and with the children back to school the weather will inevitably pick up. Maybe it is the haze of nostalgia through which we review the past. You know the sort of thing: all summers were sunny, ice creamwas much tastier, you could have a good night out on half a crown, no-one worried about where they had put their mobile phone or fretted over a rogue social media message. Ah, happy days indeed! Maybe my view is coloured by some more recent memorable performances at this time of year. Who can forget the dramatic backdrop of the red sky last year while Jonny Evans and Chris Brunt were putting the Czech Republic to the sword on our way to the World Cup play-offs in November? In the early years of this century September was David Healy Time. 2005 and 2006 saw him at the height of his powers and the memorable and wonderful goals to sink Sven Goran Eriksson’s mighty England and a year later the seemingly unbeatable Spanish. Those were hot, humid and heady nights of international football bliss. And definitely the stuff of legend, providing fans with never-to-be-forgotten ‘I was there’ moments. On our journey to the Euro finals in 2016 how could we forget the heart-stopping injury time Kyle Lafferty equaliser against Hungary that kept us moving forward and ended the Magyars’ fleeting hopes of usurping us in the qualification table? A year earlier, in September 2014, we had gone to Budapest and with late Niall McGinn and Kyle Lafferty goals turned around a 1-0 deficit to make it a tremendous away win which set us on our way to the Euros.

The amazing red sky which provided a backdrop for the game against Czech Republic last September.


It was David Healy Time in both September 2005 and September 2006 thanks to his famous goals against England and Spain respectively




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ON THE EUROPEAN TRAIL As Northern Ireland prepare to face their first ever match in the newly- formed UEFA Nations League, it’s perhaps timely to take a look back at our first attempt to qualify for the European Championships - in 1964.

The 3-1 win over Greece in October 2015 ensured Northern Ireland would take part in the European Championships finals for the first time.

– gave Northern Ireland real hope of progression to the final round of qualifying. Alas a second half strike from Real Madrid legend Francisco Gento at Windsor Park on 30 October 1963 saw the Spaniards triumph 2-1 on aggregate. Along with Spain it was Luxembourg, Denmark, France, Hungary, Sweden, the Soviet Union and the Republic of Ireland that made it to the second and final round of qualification for Euro 1964 – which also doubled as the unofficial quarter-finals of the tournament itself. Spain hosted and ultimately won Euro 1964, beating the Soviet Union 2-1 in the final in Madrid in a four-team competition that also featured Hungary and Denmark. After their failure to make it to Euro 1964, Northern Ireland’s path to eventually securing a place at the finals of a European Championships was a slow and painful one. More than half a century of hurt (52 years) eventually came to an end when a 3-1 victory over Greece in Belfast on 8 October 2015 guaranteed Michael O’Neill’s men qualification to UEFA Euro 2016. Words Andy Greeves

The inaugural UEFA Nations League is linked with UEFA Euro 2020 qualifying and will offer four places at the finals of the European Championships to nations that haven’t already qualified. For the 55 nations competing in four leagues and 16 groups therefore the road to the continent’s biggest international football tournament starts now. To date Northern Ireland have played 110 qualifying matches for the European Championships dating back to the first leg of their Euro 1964 preliminary round qualifier against Poland in Chorzów on 10 October 1962. Goals from Derek Dougan and Billy Humphries gave Bertie Peacock’s team a two-goal advantage in the tie that day while strikes from Johnny Crossan and Billy Bingham at Windsor Park on 28 November 1962 saw them complete an aggregate 4-0 victory. In contrast to the current European qualifying group format, the route to Euro 1964 was a straight knockout contest, with three rounds of matches (including the preliminary round) played over two legs. After their victory over Poland, Peacock’s men were paired with Spain in the draw for the first round proper. A 1-1 draw in Bilbao on 30 May 1963 – which featured an equalising goal from Willie Irvine



Andy Greeves takes a closer look at Bosnia and Herzegovina ahead of this afternoon’s UEFA Nations League encounter. LOWDOWN This is Robert Prosinečki’s first competitive fixture in charge of Bosnia and Herzegovina, with the Croatian legend having replaced Mehmed Baždarević as the national team’s head coach at the start of the year. The Golden Lilies have won two of their six friendlies in 2018, drawing three and losing just one game - to Mexico back in February. Prosinečki is without Sead Kolašinac for this match, with the Arsenal defender having suffered a knee injury in a pre-season encounter with Chelsea in Dublin last month. Meanwhile, long-serving players such as Emir Spahić, Zvjezdan Misimović, Haris Medunjanin and Vedad Ibišević all announced their retirement from international football earlier in the year.

TACTICS Prosinečki has favoured the use of a 4-3-3 formation during his time as Bosnia and Herzegovina manager so far, however it appears more like a 4-2-3-1 in practice. The Golden Lilies are keen to play out from the back and favour a neat brand of passing football. Bosnia and Herzegovina are hugely dependent on Miralem Pjanić, who is the midfield heartbeat of the side. Aside from being an excellent passer of the ball, the Juventus man takes the majority of the team’s free-kicks and weighs in with important goals. He has netted 12 times in 79 internationals to date. Defensive-minded midfielders such as Muhamed Bešić and Gojko Cimirot give Pjanić the licence to support attacking moves while the likes of Edin Višća and Haris Duljević operate in wide areas.

STRENGTHS Pjanić has the ability to dictate a game and has a real eye for a killer pass. Last season he made 14 assists in 44 appearances for Juventus in all competitions, scoring seven times himself. Captain Edin Džeko is the focal point of the team’s attacks, with the Roma player having scored 52 times in 93 appearances for Bosnia and Herzegovina to date. POSSIBLE LINE-UP GK Ibrahim Sehic, RB Darko Todorović, CB Toni Šunjić, CB Ervin Zukanović, LB Eldar Ćivić, DM Gojko Cimirot, DMMuhamed Bešić, RM Edin Višća, CMMiralem Pjanić, LM Haris Duljević, FW Edin Džeko. Many thanks to journalist Sasa Ibrulj for his assistance in the writing of this article.



Words Liam Blackburn

The 49-year-old will be seeking revenge in the UEFA Nations League after O’Neill’s side claimed victories over Azerbaijan in both Belfast and Baku. Northern Ireland recorded a 4-0 success over Prosinecki’s side at the National Stadium at Windsor Park in November 2016, yet the Azeris were vastly improved seven months on when a late Stuart Dallas goal clinched one of the most crucial victories of the campaign. The future of Prosinecki, who had been at the helm of Azerbaijan since 2014, was uncertain after that game and his next step would be to take another international job with a Bosnia and Herzegovina side that had failed to qualify for the World Cup in Russia. Prosinecki represented both the old Yugoslavia and Croatia as a player and is still remembered as one of the most technically gifted to emerge from the Balkans region. After helping Red Star Belgrade win the European Cup in 1991, Prosinecki moved to Real Madrid and played for Barcelona before spending a year at Portsmouth later in his career. Though hampered by injuries, he is still fondly remembered at Fratton Park, where he once scored a brilliant hat-trick against Barnsley. And while his recent memories of Belfast are not happy ones, Prosinecki has scored an international goal in the city having sealed Yugoslavia’s 2-0 victory over Northern Ireland in 1990. BOSNIA AND HERZEGOVINA THE COACH Former Real Madrid and Barcelona midfielder Robert Prosinecki is no stranger to Michael O’Neill and this Northern Ireland team having been in charge of Azerbaijan during the World Cup 2018 qualifiers.

His coaching career began on Croatia’s staff and he took his first managerial role in 2010 with old club Red Star in Belgrade. It was an emotional return and though he won the Serbian Cup, Prosinecki stepped down less than two years after arriving. A short spell with Kayserispor followed before Prosinecki succeeded Berti Vogts and became Azerbaijan’s boss. They finished fifth in the World Cup 2018 qualifiers but Prosinecki will hope he can take a more talented Bosnia and Herzegovina side to Euro 2020. » » Won the European Cup with Red Star Belgrade in 1991, scoring a penalty in the shoot-out when they beat Marseille in the final » » One of the few to have played for both Real Madrid and Barcelona. He also played for Sevilla in Spain and had a campaign in England with Portsmouth. » » Won 15 caps for Yugoslavia and 49 with Croatia and became the only player to have scored in two World Cups for two different nations having found the net in 1990 and 1998. » » Was a member of Croatia’s coaching staff between 2006 and 2010 when Slaven Bilic was in charge.




ERVIN ZUKANOVIC Genoa Age 31 Caps 26 Goals 0

IBRAHIM SEHIC Erzurumspor Age 30 Caps 12 Goals 0

Zukanovic has played his club football in Italy since 2014, featuring for Chievo, Sampdoria, Roma, Atalanta and Genoa. Was born in 1987 and wears the number 87 shirt at Genoa. The defender has previously played in the Champions League for Roma as he featured against Real Madrid in 2016. ERMIN BICAKCIC Hoffenheim Age 28 Caps 24 Goals 3 First capped by Bosnia and Herzegovina in 2013 and he scored his first goal in a crucial World Cup 2014 qualifying victory over Slovakia. Made his Bundesliga debut back in 2010 for Stuttgart in a 5-3 loss to Bayern Munich and he was taken off an hour in after Mario Gomez had scored a hat-trick. DARKO TODOROVIC Red Bull Salzburg Age 21 Caps 4 Goals 0 Todorovic received his first Bosnia and Herzegovina cap playing right-back against the United States in Prosinecki’s first game at the start of the year. He has started three friendlies since too so would seem to be a good bet to be in the visitors’ starting line-up against Michael O’Neill’s men. ELDAR CIVIC Sparta Prague Age 22 Caps 1 Goals 0 Civic has kept his place in the squad having only made his first international appearance against Korea Republic a few months ago. Prosinecki started him at left-back in that encounter and the 22-year-old provided the assist for Edin Visca’s first goal. Civic has previously represented his nation at Under-21 level. BOJAN NASTIC Genk Age 24 Caps 1 Goals 0 Another defender in Prosinecki’s squad with just one cap to his credit - Nastic started at left-back in the 0-0 draw with Montenegro in May. Nastic had featured for Serbia Under-17s and Under-21s and only received confirmation from FIFA that he could represent Bosnia and Herzegovina in the same month he made his debut.

Sehic recently moved to the Turkish Super Lig after five years in Azerbaijan with Qarabag. Bournemouth goalkeeper Asmir Begovic was the only Bosnia and Herzegovina player to play in all 10 of their World Cup 2018 qualifiers but Sehic has started all six games since Robert Prosinecki was appointed manager in January. KENAN PIRIC Maribor Age 24 Caps 1 Goals 0 Only made his international debut against Mexico earlier this year as a half-time substitute for Sehic. Piric had previously played in the domestic league with Zrinjski but joined Slovenian club Maribor in the summer. He was an unused substitute in both of his team’s Europa League games against Rangers in August. VEDRAN KJOSEVSKI Zeljeznicar Age 23 Caps 0 Goals 0 Kjosevski is uncapped but received his first call-up for the games against Bulgaria and Senegal in March. Has previously represented Bosnia and Herzegovina at various youth levels and has spent his entire senior career in the Premijer Liga with Zeljeznicar, who have finished each of the past two campaigns as runners-up. Another who made a move in the transfer window as he joined Belgian club Anderlecht, having previously played club football in Greece, Russia, Spain, Turkey, Moldova and Serbia. Vranjes played in seven of his nation’s 10 World Cup 2018 qualifiers and is the most experienced player of this defensive group. TONI SUNJIC Dynamo Moscow Age 29 Caps 33 Goals 1 Represented his nation at the 2014 World Cup and played in two of Bosnia and Herzegovina’s group games in Brazil. Sunjic made his debut in a 2-0 friendly win over Wales six years ago and scored his first goal in a 3-2 loss to Cyprus during qualification for this summer’s World Cup. OGNJEN VRANJES Anderlecht Age 28 Caps 35 Goals 0



MIRALEM PJANIC Juventus Age 28 Caps 79 Goals 12

Only Germany’s Joshua Kimmich provided more assists across Europe than Pjanic in the World Cup 2018 qualifiers. Pjanic speaks six different languages and recently signed a new contract with reigning Serie A champions Juventus. Also featured in the 2014 World Cup and scored in the 3-1 win over Iran during the tournament.

Words Liam Blackburn


GORAN ZAKARIC Partizan Age 25 Caps 6 Goals 0

EDIN VISCA Istanbul Basaksehir Age 28 Caps 36 Goals 8 Visca netted a hat-trick in Bosnia and Herzegovina’s last game – a 3-1 win over Korea Republic. He also scored three times during the World Cup 2018 qualifiers and only Edin Dzeko netted more goals among his team- mates. Visca plays his club football in Turkey and impressed in Istanbul Basaksehir’s recent Europa League games against Burnley. MUHAMED BESIC Middlesbrough Age 25 Caps 31 Goals 0 Was 18 when he became the youngest player ever to represent Bosnia and Herzegovina’s senior team against Slovakia in 2010. German-born Besic moved to England in 2014 and is currently on his second loan spell (from Everton) with Championship club Middlesbrough, where Northern Ireland midfielders Paddy McNair and George Saville Dynamo Dresden Age 24 Caps 12 Goals 0 Duljevic is currently on the books of German second division club Dynamo Dresden. He played in two of the World Cup 2018 qualifiers, starting in the 4-3 loss to Belgium and coming off the bench in the 2-1 win over Estonia. New boss Prosinecki has given him four caps since taking over. GOJKO CIMIROT Standard Liege Age 25 Caps 11 Goals 0 Had been in Greece with PAOK prior to signing for Belgian club Standard Liege in January. Cimirot is not renowned for his goal-scoring exploits having scored just five league goals in his entire career. Four of his caps have been won under Prosinecki, though he made his debut in 2014. SANJIN PRCIC Levante Age 24 Caps 6 Goals 0 The only player in this 23-man Bosnia and Herzegovina squad who plays his club football in Spain, having joined Levante over the summer. Prcic did not play a single minute for his country during the 2018 World Cup qualifiers and he is yet to make an appearance in Prosinecki’s time at the helm. ELVIS SARIC Suwon Bluewings Age 28 Caps 6 Goals 0 Saric only made his international bow in January but he has featured in each of Bosnia and Herzegovina’s six games since Prosinecki took charge. The midfielder moved to Suwon Bluewings in 2017 to become one of the few foreign players in their squad, though he is yet to score in K League 1. are his colleagues. HARIS DULJEVIC

Winger who scored on his Partizan debut in August in a Europa League game. Earned his move to the Serbian club after impressing in Zeljeznicar’s 2017-18 campaign and he scored 12 times in the Premijer Liga across that season. Yet to find the net for his country but has only started two games. RADE KRUNIC Empoli Age 24 Caps 3 Goals 0 Krunic has been with Empoli since 2015 and was part of the side that won the Serie B title last term. He then scored in a 2-0 win over Cagliari in their first game back in Serie A last month. Made just one appearance in the World

Cup 2018 qualifiers. DENI MILOSEVIC Konyaspor Age 23 Caps 2 Goals 0

Milosevic was born in Belgium and represented the country of his birth at Under-17 level prior to switching allegiance and winning his first Bosnia and Herzegovina cap in March. He will link up with the national team in good spirits after scoring the winner in Konyaspor’s last match.


EDIN DZEKO Roma Age 32 Caps 93 Goals 52 Last season Bosnia’s all-time top scorer became the first player to have netted at least 50 goals in three of Europe’s top five leagues, having reached half-centuries with Wolfsburg, Manchester City and Roma. Dzeko has over 50 international goals too and his goals-per- game ratio is similar to Cristiano Ronaldo’s for Portugal. KENAN KODRO Copenhagen Age 25 Caps 7 Goals 2 Kodro was born in Spain and came through the Real Sociedad system. He qualifies for Bosnia and Herzegovina through his father, Meho, a former Barcelona forward who played for and briefly managed his country. Kodro scored the only goal against Bulgaria to earn Prosinecki his first win with the nation in March. RIAD BAJIC Istanbul Basaksehir Age 25 Caps 5 Goals 0 One of two players in Prosinecki’s squad who plays for Istanbul Basaksehir, where he is on loan from Serie A side Udinese. Bajic earned his move to Italy after scoring 17 goals in the 2016- 17 Turkish Super Lig season for Konyaspor. However, he is yet to start a game for his country.



» » Bosnia and Herzegovina have only ever qualified for one major tournament in the 30-plus years they have been affiliated to FIFA, though there have been a series of near misses in qualification. » » Yugoslavia was a regular at major tournaments prior to its dissolution and Bosnia and Herzegovina have not enjoyed as much success as Croatia, Serbia or Slovenia, three of the other nations born out of the break-up of Yugoslavia. » » Bosnia and Herzegovina’s lone appearance at a major tournament remains the World Cup in Brazil four years ago. » » For the country’s first attempt at qualification, they were paired in a tricky group with Croatia, Denmark, Slovenia and Greece to determine who made the 1998 World Cup. » » Bosnia and Herzegovina were the only side to defeat Denmark, and beat Slovenia home and away, but they failed to qualify having finished fourth. » » Juventus star Hasan Salihamidzic, Fenerbahce’s Elvir Bolic and Coventry defender Muhamed Konjic were among the first players to represent the independent Bosnia and Herzegovina, who finished third in the Euro 2000 qualifiers and missed out on the World Cup two years later as well. » » They would come close in the next two qualification campaigns, though. A place at Euro 2004 would have been confirmed had the Bosnians beaten Denmark in their final qualifier, but a 1-1 draw in Sarajevo dashed the dreams of those from The Heart-Shaped Land. » » In the World Cup 2006 qualifiers Bosnia and Herzegovina finished third in their group behind both Serbia and Montenegro and Spain. » » The country then entered a transitional period as the likes of Dzeko and Vedad Ibisevic came through into the senior fold. In the World Cup 2010 qualifiers, under manager Miroslav Blazevic, they finished second in their group and reached the play-offs where a Portugal side missing the injured Cristiano Ronaldo reached South Africa with a 2-0 aggregate success.

» » It was a similar story in their attempt to qualify for Euro 2012. After pushing France all the way in their group they faced yet another play-off against Portugal. This time Ronaldo did play and he scored twice in a 6-2 second-leg win that once more denied the Bosnians a slice of history. » » Finally, in their quest to make the World Cup in 2014, the Bosnians sealed their spot. Dzeko scored 10 times and Ibisevic netted eight goals as their nation topped the group from Greece on goal difference. » » Their first game in Brazil ended in a 2-1 loss to Argentina, with current Arsenal defender Sead Kolasinac scoring the fastest own goal in World Cup finals history. Bosnia and Herzegovina would also lose to Nigeria and they went out at the group stage despite beating Iran 3-1. » » However, neither Euro 2016 nor the 2018 World Cup had Bosnian representation. They came close to joining Northern Ireland in France but again suffered play-off heartache, this time against the Republic of Ireland, who won 2-0 in Dublin after drawing the first leg in Zenica. DOMESTIC LEAGUE » » Bosnia and Herzegovina’s domestic league is called the Premijer Liga - a 12-team competition that has been won by Mostar-based club Zrinjski for the past three seasons in a row. » » Sarajevo-based Zeljeznicar, which is where current Roma striker Edin Dzeko began his career, have been runners-up in each of the previous two campaigns. » » In terms of memorable European runs from Bosnian clubs, Dzeko had still yet to make his senior debut for Zeljeznicar when they made it all the way through to the final qualifying round of the 2002-03 UEFA Champions League only to be knocked out by Newcastle United. » » Northern Ireland’s Aaron Hughes played in both legs for Bobby Robson’s side and helped the Magpies secure a 5-0 aggregate success.



The Irish FA Foundation is staging a Charity Golf Day tomorrow (9 September) to raise funds for its disability football programmes in Northern Ireland.

Andrea Milligan, Fundraising Officer with the Irish FA Foundation, the Irish FA’s charitable arm, said: “This is the first time we have organised a charity golf day and we are delighted Michael O’Neill, current players and Northern Ireland legends are supporting it. “We are confident it will be a great event and we are hoping it will raise plenty of money for our various disability football programmes, including our Cerebral Palsy, Deaf Football and Powerchair teams.” Words Nigel Tilson

Royal Belfast Golf Club on the shores of Belfast Lough is hosting the major fundraising event, which is being supported by both current and former Northern Ireland players. And Northern Ireland manager Michael O’Neill will be among the guests at the Holywood course. Each team – the event will be played in the fourball format – will either feature a current international player or a Northern Ireland legend. Former international stars David Healy, Pat Jennings, John O’Neill and Stephen Penney will be there alongside Linfield and Northern Ireland goalkeeper Roy Carroll.

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GIVE US A SONG, GIVE US, GIVE US, GIVE US A SONG… There’s nothing like a collective chorus to get the party started in our national stadium. It’s as much part of your football experience as chomping on a big greasy burger, imbibing on a fine tonic wine and purchasing the prized programme currently in your grasp.

my sartorial soothsaying skills, How did you know?! Naturally, the entire pub was singing along, none louder than our new-found England chums. Of course, over the years many players have been immortalised in song. With this being a family publication, however, I am obliged to refrain from sharing some of the more, how shall I put it, mature lyrics. Suffice to say Magennis, Clingan and Davis may need to check who’s in the room before sharing theirs. Meanwhile, censorship-free faves of mine include Jonny, Jonny, Jonny, Jonny, Jonny, Jonny Evans, Corry, Corry, Corry, Corry, Corry, Corry Evans (including high/low dance). He’s Tall, He’s Thin, He Looks Like Jimmy Quinn. He’s Jimmy Quinn, Jimmy Quiiiiin . And, for pure nostalgia, Artur Boruc, Artur Boruc, Artur Boruc, Ulster's Number 1. Notable mentions must also go to perennial fan faves Let's All Do The Bouncy, Oooooh Gareth McAuley/ Michael McGovern (insert as appropriate) and Michael, Give Us AWave. Michael, Michael, Give Us A Wave (followed by a bellowing yeowww when Michael does, indeed, give us a wave). You thought you’d got through an entire feature without it, didn’t you? No chance. Especially now he’s been recalled to the squad. Mr Grigg, if you’re reading, look away now. I know you have a bittersweet relationship with this particular earworm. Little did Wigan fan Sean Kennedy know that words he put to Gala’s club hit Freed FromDesire would, thanks to the GAWA, become the unofficial anthem of Euro 2016. Will Grigg’s On Fire had fans from all across Europe singing in the bars and on the streets of France and beyond as Northern Ireland progressed through the rounds. Even Cantona fell under its spell. And, for me, singing along to the Parc des Princes PA system a full 40 minutes after our defeat to Germany will remain long in the memory, especially as many German fans stayed, too, watching, videoing and relishing the occasion. This is what a good song can do. Bring everyone together in (almost) perfect harmony. Now That’s What I Call GAWA. Words Heidi McAlpin

Win, lose or draw, match days are made all the sweeter with a stadium-rousing rendition or two to galvanise the crowd and fire up the players. So let’s take a moment to reflect on those beautiful tunes that have immortalised iconic players and unforgettable events. Many fine ditties have graced the stands, some lasting better than others ( Yer Man anyone?). But the unofficial anthem that has stood the ravages of time has to be We’re Not Brazil . This cast-iron singalong mixes the tune of The Battle Hymn Of The Republic with words by Northern Ireland fan Stewart McAfee who has cleverly combined tournament successes with our self-deprecating wit. Singers, including yours truly, often let slip their vintage when it comes to the line espousing ‘ our leader ’. In my case it’s Sammy who gets the nod. Mr McIlroy’s tenure as teammanager marked our infamous record-breaking goalless run that inspired the song’s gallows humour. Subsequent managers may have fared better but Lawrie, Nigel and Michael will forever evade my vocal recall. And only the diehard GAWA can be heard belting out those extra verses added by maestros Jones and Fullerton. But it’s all the same to me . Any self-respecting DJ has a few floorfillers up their sleeve, and it’s no different at Studio Windsor Park. Enter Neil Diamond with his arms aloft megahit. Fans only need to hear those opening nah nah nahs and we’re out of our seats, clapping our hands and building to the delicious climax that is Sweet Caroline. If Windsor had a roof it would surely be raised. So good, so good, so good. Coming a close third in my Top of the Kops has to be Away In AManger . This classic Christmas carol plays out in the traditional way until that final well-taken curve ball has everyone chanting as one… Healy! Healy! Healy! You don’t hear it so much these days, but now and again its retro strains get a good airing. And not just from Linfield fans. Somewhat prophetically this very song is etched on a Northern Ireland T-shirt I wore at that England match. Straight after the game I headed to Hunter’s to revel in the TV repeat when an English couple commented on


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