Bosnia, Serbia set for charged qualifier
Bosnia play Serbia and Montenegro in an emotionally charged World Cup Group Seven qualifier on Saturday that will be played under heavy security because of fears of crowd trouble.
The hosts hope to extend a four-match unbeaten run and secure their first win of the qualifying campaign after an opening 1-1 draw with Spain last month.
Coach Blaz Sliskovic will, however, be without four key players.
Goalkeeper Kenan Hasagic, left back Vedin Music and central defender Muhamed Konjic had already withdrawn because of injury when hard-working midfielder Hasan Salihamidzic of Bayern Munich pulled out on Thursday with a hamstring problem.
The good news for Sliskovic is that Germany-born midfielder Ivica Grlic should get Bosnian citizenship in time to play.
'If we play well why would a draw be a failure?' Sliskovic said. 'Still, I think we have a lot of reasons to hope that we can win all (three) points.'
Serbia and Montenegro manager Ilija Petkovic will also be forced to field a makeshift side.
Nenad Jestrovic, Dragan Mladenovic and Mateja Kezman are injured and the manager has also left out his son Dusan Petkovic, who is recovering from a long-term problem.
Central defender Nemanja Vidic is in the squad but unlikely to play as he is struggling with a niggling ankle injury.
Influential midfielder Dejan Stankovic, who played in Serbia's 3-0 victory in San Marino last month, is expecting a tough game.
'We had an easy 2-0 win in a friendly here some time ago but they have improved vastly since then,' Stankovic said.
More than 25 people were hurt at the same venue in 2002 when lingering hostility from the 1992-95 Bosnian war inflamed the passions of Serb and Bosnian fans.
About 1,300 policemen and security guards will be deployed and hundreds of metres of security net erected to prevent contact between fans and the throwing of missiles on to the pitch.
The Serbia and Montenegro soccer association (FSSCG) has decided not to take any fans but many people from Serbia and Bosnia's Serb half are expected to make the trip.
Bosnia are hosting the game in Sarajevo after FIFA banned the Bilino Polje stadium in the central city of Zenica for two matches because a billiard ball thrown from the crowd hit a Spain player on the head in last month's qualifier.
Bosnia (4-4-2): Almir Tolja; Emir Spahic, Branimir Bajic, Sasa Papac, Mirko Hrgovic; Mirsda Beslija, Sergej Barbarez, Vladan Grujic, Elvir Baljic; Zvjezdan Misimovic, Elvir Bolic
Serbia & Montengro (3-5-2): Dragoslav Jevric; Goran Gavrancic, Mladen Krstajic, Milovoje Vitakic; Milivoje Cirkovic, Ivica Dragutinovic, Dejan Stankovic, Ognjen Koroman, Zvonimir Vukic; Savo Milosevic, Danijel Ljuboja
Referee: Gilles Veissiere (France)