The upcoming group G matches against Slovakia in September will be two of the biggest matches in Bosnia's young history as two wins would make direct qualification to the 2014 World Cup in Brazil all but guaranteed. Today we'll analyze the importance of the first game, played September 6th, for both teams.
Group G Standings
1) Bosnia-Herzegovina - Wins: 5, Draws: 1, Losses: 0, GF: 23 GA: 3 GD: +20, Pts: 16
2) Greece - Wins: 4, Draws: 1, Losses: 1, GF: 7 GA: 4 GD: +3, Pts: 13
3) Slovakia - Wins: 2, Draws: 3, Losses: 1, GF: 7 GA: 5 GD: +2, Pts: 9
4) Lithuania - Wins: 1, Draws: 2, Losses: 3, GF: 4 GA: 8 GD: -4, Pts: 5
5) Latvia - Wins: 1, Draws: 1, Losses: 4, GF: 6 GA: 14 GD: -8, Pts: 4
6) Liechtenstein - Wins: 0, Draws: 2, Losses: 4, GF: 3 GA: 16 GD: -13, Pts: 2
These teams will be looking for a win which would raise their Fifa World Ranking. With the loss to the United States, Bosnia is sure to drop down from their 13th place ranking and, more importantly, they're about to fall out of the UEFA zone's top 9 and that ever important first pot class. Slovakia meanwhile are an albatross 62nd place in the world right now and 31st in Europe, meaning they'd be in pot 4; they'll be looking to at least get into the more manageable pot 3 group (20-29 in Europe) before the Euro 2016 qualifying draw takes place in February.
Describing Slovakia's qualifying campaign thus far as disappointing would be a vast understatement. The Slovaks, who were in the top 20 of Fifa's rank and in pot 2 during the 2014 Qualifying draw, have fallen to 62nd place thanks to bad results such as a 1-0 loss to Greece at home, two 1-1 ties against Lithuania home and away, and the very recent 1-1 draw to minnows Liechtenstein. The Slovaks have the toughest remaining schedule out of all the teams in Group G, having to play Bosnia twice and Greece away from home. Despite this however they'll still have hope of a 2nd place finish and a play-off for Brazil 2014 as they are still mathematically in this. A loss in Zenica and a Greece win against Latvia however would suck the life out of Slovakia's qualifying campaign.
The first game for Bosnia is at home in Zenica, making a win expected. If Bosnia wins game 1 then Slovakia won't have much to play for as it would be all but impossible for them to qualify for even the playoffs with just 3 games left, in turn making it easier for the dragons in game 2 against a crushed Slovakia in Zilina. A loss however would be catastrophic; if Slovakia beats the dragons in Zenica they would have nothing but confidence and hope in game 2 as result.
A Bosnia loss would also leave no room for error, due to Greece's easy remaining schedule Bosnia are allowed to slip up only once (a slip up being a loss or a draw). Bosnia isn't allowed to lose at home in Zenica, if nothing else a draw in game 2 away from home is a worst case scenario. The schedule makers ended up giving the dragons a break because the first game is at home, and a home win would put less pressure on our side for game 2.
The Slovaks are a team with their backs to the wall facing a must win game in Zenica September 6th. This game might turn out to be even more dangerous than the Greece game March 22nd, which the dragons won 3-1, because the Slovaks are in a must win situation. Slovakia cannot be taken lightly; this is still a team that reached the knockout stages of the World Cup just 3 years ago and a team with quality in their ranks with players such as Marek Hamsik, who led the Serie A in assists for Napoli last season. Game 1 will be one of the most important games in Bosnia's history.
-AI (Adnan Ikic)