After a disappointing 2017 that culminated in failing to qualify for the World Cup, the The United States Men’s National Team kicks off 2018 with a friendly against Bosnia and Herzegovina. As this match does not occur on a FIFA international date, clubs were not required to release players. As a result, both sides are missing numerous regular starters from their roster. Still, most American fans are unfamiliar with the Bosnian roster and what they can do, so here are some quick facts about the team.
1. Who’s on the roster?
Updated on January 26th
Goalkeepers (3): Kenan Piric (Zrinjski, 0 caps), Ibrahim Sehic (Qarabag, Azerbaijan, 6 caps), (FK Borac Banja Luka; 0/0)
Defenders (6): Darko Todorovic (Sloboda, 0 caps), Daniel Graovac (Zeljezničar, 1 cap), Marko Mihojevic (Sarajevo, 0 caps), Almir Bekic (Sarajevo, 1 cap), Besim Šerbečić (FK Radnik Bijeljina, 0 cpas), Darko Todorović (FK Sloboda Tuzla, 0 caps)
Midfielders (10): Haris Medunjanin (Philadelphia Union, USA, 56 caps), Elvis Saric (Sarajevo, 0 caps), Dino Besirevic (Radnik, 0 caps), Zoran Kvrzic (Rijeka, Croatia, 4 caps), Stjepan Loncar (Siroki Brijeg, 0 caps), Marijan Cavar (Zrinjski, 0 caps), Goran Zakaric (Zeljeznicar, 1 cap), Ognjen Todorovic (Zrinjski, 0 caps), Adnan Secerovic (Mladost DK, 0 caps), Tomislav Tomic (Olimpija, Slovenia, 0 caps),
Forwards (5): Mersudin Ahmetovic (Sarajevo, 0 caps), Nemanja Bilbija (Zrinjski, 0 caps), Elvir Koljic (Krupa, 0 caps), Elvir Ibisevic (University of Nebraska-Omaha Mavericks, 0 caps), Luka Menalo (NK Široki Brijeg, 0 caps)
19 members of the 24-man roster play in Bosnia’s top division, The Premier League of Bosnia and Herzegovina. According to UEFA, the Bosnian league is ranked 40th out of the confederation’s 55 leagues.
2. Haris Medunjanin is the Star
Philadelphia Union central midfielder Haris Medunjanin is by far the most experienced and talented player on this roster. He is the team’s oldest player at 32, and his 56 caps are greater than the combined caps of the rest of the team. Medunjanin is an excellent passer with a high motor, and he provides important veteran leadership and will likely serve as captain.
3. Failure to qualify for the 2018 World Cup led to a coaching change
Much like the USMNT, Bosnia will not feature in the 2018 World Cup. A talented squad, including players such as Edin Dzeko (AS Roma), Miralem Pjanic (Juventus), Sead Kolašinac (Arsenal), was eliminated after finishing third in UEFA Group H behind Greece and Belgium. Former Croatian international Robert Prosinecki, who played for Real Madrid and Barcelona, was appointed as the team’s new coach on January 4th. He was previously in charge of the Azerbaijan National Team from 2014 to 2017.
4. Mersudin Ahmetovic is the biggest goalscoring threat
It’s hard to predict the starters for this match, but if Mersudin Ahmetovic gets the nod, he will be Bosnia’s biggest goalscoring threat. The 32-year-old late bloomer is having an excellent season for Bosnian side Sarajevo. Ahmetovic has 13 goals and 4 assists in 16 league matches, and the 6’3’’ target man is lethal in the air.
5. The result isn’t important
This Bosnian team is full of players with little international experience and could easily be viewed as a “C” team. While new coach Robert Prosinecki will surely want to begin his time managing the team with a win, the result against the U.S. is irrelevant.
The USMNT has a much stronger squad. The best case scenario for Bosnia would be to keep the game close and have a few players demonstrate that they are deserving of further callups.
What do you think about Bosnia’s team? Do you think the U.S. will win?