Bazdarevic: Bosnia masters of own destiny against Ireland
Bosnia's destiny is in their own hands as the Balkan nation try to qualify for the European Championship finals for the first time, according to their manager.
While Martin O'Neill painted a broad picture by naming a 40-man squad last week for the two-legged battle with Bosnia, the first in Zenica on Friday week, his counterpart Mehmed Bazdarevic has gone for a more small-scale approach.
Yesterday he named a 28-strong squad for the play-offs, current or former Premier League players like Asmir Begovic, Mo Besic and Edin Dzeko the names most familair to Irish fans and players, but it's also a squad packed with talent from the top divisions in England, Spain and Italy, with Empoli forward Rade Krunic called up for the first time.
"It is good that we are in a situation where we are masters of our destiny. The most important thing is that the players are ready and they are all playing well for their clubs," said manager Bazdarevic.
"Ireland have good-quality players. It will be very difficult.
"It's important that we prepare ourselves well, and have a lot of desire, enthusiasm and fight, as well as giving a good performance tactically."
Classy midfielder Besic, a team-mate of James McCarthy and Seámus Coleman at Everton, is a key player for Bosnia but he's suspended for the first leg.
Coach Bazdarevic saw enough from rookie Krunic in Serie A this season to promote the 22-year-old to the senior panel, Krunic on form having scored his first Serie A goal of the season for Empoli in a win over Genoa two weeks ago.
BOSNIA squad (v Ireland)
Keepers: Begovic (Chelsea), Sehic (Qarabag), Jasmin Buric (Lech Poznan).
Defenders: Mujdza (Freiburg), Spahic (Hamburg), Sunjic (Stuttgart), Bicakcic (Hoffenheim), Vranjes (Gaziantepspor), Kolasina (Schalke), Cocalic (Mechelen), Zukanovic (Sampdoria), Anicic (Astana).
Midfielders: Besic (Everton), Pjanic (Roma), Grahovac (Rapid Vienna), Medunjanin (Deportiva la Coruna), Hadzic (Sturm Graz), Susic (Hajduk Split), Lulic (Lazio), Salihovic (Guizhou, China), Krunic (Empoli).
Forwards: Visca (Istanbul), Hajrovic (Eibar, Spain), Dzeko (Roma), Zec (Gabala, Azerbaijan), Ibisevic (Hertha Berlin), Djuric (Cesena), Hodzic (Dinamo Zagreb).