Belfast Telegraph

Northern Ireland's Euro 2020 play-off opponents sack manager

Prosinecki parts company with Bosnia

Bosnia parted company with manager Robert Prosinecki ahead of next March's Euro2020 play-off clash with Northern Ireland.
Bosnia parted company with manager Robert Prosinecki ahead of next March's Euro2020 play-off clash with Northern Ireland.

By Gareth McCullough

Northern Ireland's opponents in the Euro 2020 play-off, Bosnia, have announced that they have parted company with manager Robert Prosinecki.

The Croatian was appointed to the role in January 2018, but it's been something of a bumpy road for the former Portsmouth and Real Madrid midfielder in the last 22 months in the role.

Prosinecki had been confidently predicting that Bosnia will defeat Northern Ireland in March but, despite overseeing victories home and away against Michael O'Neill's side in the 2018 Nations League, he won't be around for next year's mouthwatering clash following a disappointing qualification campaign.

Bosnia had high hopes of qualifying automatically for Euro 2020 but finished fourth in their group behind Italy, Finland and Greece, losing half of their 10 games in the process.

"An agreement has been reached with Prosinecki to terminate the contract and he is officially no longer the selector of the football 'A' national team of Bosnia and Herzegovina,", read today's statement from the Secretary General of of the Football Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH), Adnan Dzemidzic, who expects to name a replacement 'very fast'.

"The Executive Board of the BiH Football Federation is due to have a session by the middle of next week."

Prosinecki actually quit following an embarrassing 4-2 loss in September to Armenia, before a dramatic turnaround a day later saw him stay until the end of the qualifiers, finishing earlier this month with a 3-0 reverse against Italy and beating Liechtenstein by the same score.

The ex-Croatia midfielder has not been shy in offering his thoughts on hosting O'Neill's side in March, saying: "We have already played two matches in the Nations League with Northern Ireland and they were very good for us as we won both matches.

"Although the match will not be easy, I believe we can pass Northern Ireland and reach the play-off final."

Bosnia will now have to appoint a new manager ahead of the monumental encounter with Northern Ireland on March 26.

On playing that game on their own patch, Prosinecki said: “It is very important to us that we will play the play-off in Bosnia and Herzegovina.

“That is our slight advantage in the play-offs because of the atmosphere and crowd, and because we play really well on our pitch.”

While upheaval goes on with Bosnia, the Irish FA insist O’Neill will be in charge of Northern Ireland for the semi-final despite also being the boss of Championship outfit Stoke City.

Frustrated by the Nations League results with Bosnia — losing 2-1 at Windsor Park and 2-0 on the road — O’Neill was delighted with the number of opportunities created in last year’s two games and feels there is a genuine chance to progress to a March 31 final, where they would host Slovakia or the Republic of Ireland.

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