TODAY’S OPPONENTS, BOSNIA Herzegovina, arrive in Dublin having narrowly missed out on a place alongside Ireland at Euro 2012.
Late drama in Paris saw them finish a point behind the French in Group D of the qualifiers as a Samir Nasri penalty earned Laurent Blanc’s side a draw and with it automatic promotion to next month’s finals.
For the second time in succession, they faced Portugal in the play-offs. A closely-contested two-legged affair had seen the Portuguese progress to the 2010 World Cup finals but things were looking good this time around when the first leg in Zenica finished 0-0 back in November.
However, Cristiano Ronaldo and Co ran riot in Lisbon and put six past their opponents to once again dash hopes of a first major tournament for the Balkan nation.
When asked about the threat posed by Safet Susic’s men yesterday, Giovanni Trapattoni inevitably named a couple of their most well-known players in Manchester City’s Edin Dzeko and midfielder Miralem Pjanic, who came to prominence with Lyon but now plies his trade at Roma.
This team is full of creative players who play in Germany and England and I know them very well,” Trapattoni said. “I know a friend also in Bosnia who say to me be careful because I saw many DVDs about them.”
“There are important players in Italy, Pjanic. Djeko is a strong striker. I know all these countries – like Croatia, Serbia, Montenegro, were the old Yugoslavia. They have creative players.
“It is a very important test.”
Bosnia are already looking to September’s World Cup qualifiers and, according to their manager, are keen to perform despite the game coming at the end of a long, arduous season many of their squad members have just had.
With Ireland’s opener against Croatia, who beat our play-off opponents Estonia 3-1 in a friendly in Pula last night, two weeks away tomorrow, this afternoon’s match should prove a worthwhile run-out for the 18 players who are set to feature.