Belfast Telegraph

'It's a really big risk': Northern Ireland legend optimistic Bosnia's axing of Robert Prosinecki will prove Euro 2020 boost

Robert Prosinecki
Robert Prosinecki

By Steven Beacom

Northern Ireland legend Gerry Armstrong believes Bosnia are playing a dangerous game by parting company with manager Robert Prosinecki ahead of the Euro 2020 play-off semi-final with Michael O'Neill's side in March.

The Belfast Telegraph revealed on Tuesday that the Bosnian Football Federation were looking at ditching Prosinecki and yesterday it was confirmed that the reign of the former Barcelona and Real Madrid star was over.

It means that Northern Ireland, who lost twice to Prosinecki's Bosnia in the 2018 Nations League, will face a new boss in next year's March 26 play-off.

World Cup '82 hero Armstrong said: "It's a very dangerous thing to do, changing your manager when the new boss will have only a few days to prepare his team for such an important game.

"Prosinecki was a very technical manager and it is a really interesting decision to take at this stage.

"It will be fascinating to see who they appoint and it will prove hugely important because the new manager isn't going to have much time to work with the team.

"He will have his own ideas and whether the Bosnia players take to him, we shall see. It's a really big risk which I think is good for Northern Ireland."

While Northern Ireland go into the play-offs on the back of a strong qualifying campaign after finishing third in their group behind superpowers Germany and Holland, Bosnia were disappointed to end up fourth with Italy, Finland and Greece ahead of them.

Ex-Croatia star Prosinecki quit in September after a 4-2 defeat to Armenia before returning a day later. This time he has gone for good.

General Secretary of Bosnia’s Football Federation Adnan Dzemidzic said: “An agreement on the termination of the contract was reached with Prosinecki and he is no longer the head coach of the national football team of Bosnia & Herzegovina.”

The powers that be in Bosnian football are determined to name a new boss in the coming days in an attempt to bring stability to a volatile and unsettling situation.

Prosinecki was appointed in January last year and his highlights included a 2-1 win over Northern Ireland at Windsor Park and 2-0 home success against O’Neill’s team, both in the Nations League. Last week he predicted Bosnia would complete a hat-trick of victories on March 26.

The IFA and O’Neill insist that, despite the latter now being Stoke City boss, the manager will still be in charge for the play-off semi and a potential final at Windsor Park on March 31 against Slovakia or the Republic of Ireland.

Northern Ireland great Armstrong added: “I wasn’t overly impressed with Bosnia when we played them in the Nations League. I felt we were the better team but couldn’t take our chances. In March, I fancy us to be better than them again and finish our chances this time and then play the final at Windsor Park.”

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