Bosnia-Herzegovina’s men’s national team took its first competitive victory since November 2019 in the World Cup qualifier away against Kazakhstan on Saturday. Two goals from Smail Prevljak gave a 2-0 win and three long-awaited points in the qualifying group, where Bosnia is now third behind France and Ukraine.
Malmö FF midfielder Adi Nalic, 23, jumped in after 63 minutes and thus made his fifth A-international match for Bosnia. When the Football Channel reaches him on Sunday, he will be in Ukraine before the away match on Tuesday.
– It was incredibly big. We had not won in a while and it was important with three points. We have had many draws when we should have won, against Kazakhstan last (2-2) and maybe even against France (1-1) before that. It was noticeable on the team, the coaches and everyone around the team how much this victory meant, says Nalic.
At first, it was unclear whether Nalic would be able to travel to Kazakhstan at all to take part in Saturday’s match, as he and five teammates were denied visas when the team was to fly to the Kazakh capital Nur-Sultan where the match was played.
– I’ve never seen anything like it. We were denied entry and did not get a visa, so the team left without us. There was nothing to do. The day after the others had left (Thursday) we had been granted a visa and then we boarded the flight. I went there with a teammate and the trip took 24 hours in total. We had to change three flights, when we went Sarajevo-Zagreb-Moscow-Nur Sultan, plus it was a long change time. We arrived in Kazakhstan at five o’clock on Friday morning local time, says Nalic.
The victory against Kazakhstan was immediately necessary for Bosnia to catch up in the battle for second place behind France. Now, two points up to second place Ukraine, who also has one match more played than Bosnia. On Tuesday, an important away match against Ukraine awaits.
– It is completely open now and we have everything in our own hands. Now it is important to reload and focus, because it is an incredibly important match if we are to be there and move on to the World Cup. We will do our utmost to prevent this from slipping out of our hands and make at least as good an effort as against Kazakhstan – if not even better.
Alongside the football field, there has been a storm around the Bosnian national team lately. Former national team goalkeeper Asmir Begovic recently went out and claimed that the Bosnian football association was led by criminals, which was followed by the TV channel N1’s revelation that at least one player has bought a place in the national team through his agent.
– It is actually not something we have focused on. We focus on our own game and it is not more than that. We have proven it on the pitch, most recently we make a fantastic match and we did the same against France. We get to focus on what we do on the football field and deliver there, says Adi Nalic.
Malmö FF midfielder Anel Ahmedhodzic also played 90 minutes in central defense against Kazakhstan and helped Bosnia keep a clean sheet.