Monday 18 December 2017

Boss backs Dzeko but Irish fans hit by ticket shortfall

AS Roma's Edin Dzeko (L) is challenged by Inter Milan's Marcelo Brozovic
AS Roma's Edin Dzeko (L) is challenged by Inter Milan's Marcelo Brozovic

Bosnia's manager Mehmed Bazdarevic believes that his star pair from Roma will hit top form in time for the Euro 2016 play-off against Ireland.

Martin O'Neill's counterpart was due to name his squad for the two-legged battle with Ireland yesterday, but the Bosnian boss has asked for more time and will instead name his panel later today.

While O'Neill's weekend scouting mission saw him take in the Brentford-QPR game, Bazdarevic went to Italy to see key men Edin Dzeko and Miralem Pjanic play for Roma on Saturday, an unhappy outing for the pair as Roma lost away to Inter Milan, Dzeko was substituted while playmaker Pjanic was sent off.

Former Manchester City man Dzeko has struggled with injury and his form this season and has not scored in the league since August but his boss has backed Dzeko to deliver when it counts for the national side.

"I'm not worried," Bazdarevic said when asked about Dzeko's poor form. "Once he scores one goal, he will score a lot more.

"I have watched both of our players at Roma play 10 times and they won eight of those games so this is not a concern.

"Dzeko had been injured and he is only now returning to his best form."

Bazdarevic spent last weekend scouting out his players: after that trip to see Roma in Serie A on Saturday, on Sunday he watched defender Mensur Mujdza play for Freiburg in a 2-2 draw with Eintract Braunscheig (where he scored an own goal).

Meanwhile, the FAI have confirmed that they will receive 880 tickets from their Bosnian counterparts for the away leg of the play-off.

General admission tickets for home leg against Bosnia have sold out, with only a handful of Premier Level tickets (€120) still on sale.

A total of 1,175 Irish fans had applied for tickets for the away leg in Zenica but the Bosnian FA were unable to meet that demand and have guaranteed 880 tickets for away fans, in a stadium which has a capacity of 11,500.

"The process of contacting all applicants commenced today and tickets will be distributed under the Away Ticketing Scheme, which is currently being piloted for this game," said an FAI statement.

Bosnian supporters will take up their full allocation of 2,500 tickets for the Dublln leg of the play-off.

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