Bosnia-Herzegovina have qualified for their first World Cup as an independent nation
Thousands of people took to the streets last Tuesday to celebrate Bosnia qualifying for their first ever major football finals as a 1-0 win over Lithuania saw them confirm their place at the 2014 World Cup.
Two large TV screens were set up in the main Sarajevo square for thousands of fans to watch the match live. Colourful fireworks lit the skies over Sarajevo as the crowd shouted “Zmajevi (Dragons),” praising the national squad.
The main avenues were blocked for traffic with fans, many waving blue and yellow hats and flags in the colours of the national squad, shouted “Bosnia, Bosnia!” and celebrated late into the night. Outside the square, hundreds of cars were honking their horns along the streets of Sarajevo.
For many in Bosnia, the success would be a welcome break from everyday worries in the country that has yet to recover from the bloody 1992-1995 war in which more than 100,000 people died, while half of its population fled their homes.
The country has remained ethnically divided between its Muslim, Serb and Croat communities, but many hoped such success would bring more reconciliation between the three peoples.
“Our problems remain the same after the match, but this victory can bring a feeling of hope that the changes are possible, that we can be proud of our country,” said analyst Remzija Setic. “It might have a unifying role,” she added.
The majority of Bosnia’s supporters are among the Muslim community, and the celebrations were organised mostly in Muslim-populated towns.
Former midfielder and one of the most popular players ever in Bosnia Safet Susic took the helm of the national squad in 2009. “This is the most important match in every player’s career,” Susic said before the match.
Since gaining independence from the former Yugoslavia in 1992 the Bosnians have agonisingly all too often tripped up at the last qualifying hurdle, as they did against Portugal in the play-offs for the 2010 World Cup and Euro 2012.AFP