Thursday, August 7, 2008


SARAJEVO, Bosnia (August 7,2008) - The Bosnian national football team players who boycotted the national team in protest at the Bosnian Football Association policies have almost all agreed to play in a friendly against Bulgaria this month, coach Miroslav Blazevic said yesterday.

Blazevic has called up 25 players for the home game on Aug. 20. This will be his first test since he took over as coach last month to replace Meho Kodro who was fired in May.

“I expect everybody from the list to respond to my call for this very important game even though it is seen as a game show — but not for me,” Blazevic told reporters. “I promise we shall prepare for it as if it was a qualifier.”

The list of those returning to the squad include Emir Spahic of Lokomotiv Moscow, Branimir Bajic of Koblenz, Elvir Rahimic of CSKA Moscow, Zvjezdan Misimovic of VfL Wolfsburg, Mirko Hrgovic of Dinamo Zagreb and Sasa Papac of Rangers.

Blazevic said there was a possibility that some players might fail to show up “for unknown reasons”. He named goalkeeper Kenan Hasagic as the only one who declined to talk to him.

At least eight players have boycotted matches over the last year, calling on the Bosnian Football Association officials to resign amid accusations of corruption.

Kodro, the former national team captain, was sacked after only four months when he refused to lead the team in a friendly against Iran, saying he was not notified of the fixture in time.

However, the choice of the experienced 73-year-old Blazevic as coach has raised hopes among fans that Bosnia could qualify for the 2010 World Cup in South Africa.

He will need his best side for Bosnia's opening World Cup qualifier away to European champions Spain in Group 5 on Sept. 6. Bosnia also faces Turkey, Belgium, Estonia and Armenia.

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