Safet Susic’s side were riding high after qualifying for the World Cup finals – but the celebrations were halted by a dismal defeat against Egypt last month.
Always wanting more. That has to be sport and football’s first postulate for success. Yet in some cases to remain realistic is much more rewarding. Unfortunately, our mentality doesn’t allow us to be patient, and that could be our Achilles’ heel.
After nine qualifying campaigns Bosnia and Herzegovina finally made it to The Big Stage, but now, six months after it clinched the spot in Brazil, there is evidence of its famous capability to look for negativity when there is no need.
After we got that all important win in Lithuania in October, Safet Susic was talking about fans and general public high expectations, but the smile was there to be seen. And yet he knew that in months to come our footballing public would put a huge pressure on his and his team’s character. He has always known that euphoria is dangerous.
And then, after a couple of months of hailing the success that alluded Bosnia for so many years, “it” happened against Egypt in Innsbruck. That March friendly defeat, that should have been a celebration of Bosnia’s success with a huge fan base in Austria and Western Europe in general, turned out to be a nightmare.
Typically, the label of a friendly was soon forgotten when we lost 0-2. The defeat did not go down well with our media or the fans and the main reason why such rage was unleashed upon the coach and his players was a simple lack of proper mental approach for the game.
Susic made a mistake of not trying hard enough to motivate the players and the situation got out of control. Edin Dzeko was booed and media didn’t even try to be reasonable with some even coming out with inside dirty stories accusing him and captain Emir Spahic of being bullies within the team and even trying to pick starting eleven. In the end the FA felt something had to be done, but all they did was issue an official statement saying: “Yes, there are problems, but we can overcome them.”
Looking back at those events now, it was obvious much of that harsh criticism was unnecessary. It didn’t help at all. Yes, the players should have been warned to play with more desire, but the scale of criticism was much too high. Suddenly everything is bad, and yet it isn’t.
The aftermath of the Egypt defeat was evident: the atmosphere was ruined and the sweet success of qualification suddenly turned sour. It has all happened a couple of months before the start of the World Cup and, worst of all, we seem to have forgotten about the joy of finally making it to Brazil.
Once more our main weakness turned out to be much too apparent. The problem is one that actually lies within ourselves. There is a very thin line between euphoria and depression – Balkan Syndrome we could call it. Susic worked hard on this since taking over in 2009, but now he must regain the trust of the fans and media. And all of that because of one friendly game. Just one …