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Bosnia-Herzegovina

Matchday 14: Messi, Argentina in round of 16

Five Aside
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Bosnia, before Dzeko

Blog - Wright Thompson
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Bosnia's prediction: Last 16

Bosnia
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 By John Cross

Assessment: Bosnia's first World Cup

Bosnia will leave their first World Cup at the group stages, and ESPN FC's Sasa Ibrulj looks back at their campaign.

One sentence, World Cup recap

A fairy tale that ended too early and left the country in a mixture of disappointment and pride.

All team assessments

Group Stage: Australia | Bosnia-Herzegovina | Cameroon | Croatia | Ecuador | England | Ghana | Honduras | Italy | Iran
Ivory Coast Japan | Portugal | Russia | South Korea | Spain
Round of 16: Algeria | Chile | Greece | Mexico
Nigeria | Switzerland | Uruguay | United States
Quarterfinals: Colombia | France | Belgium | Costa Rica
Semifinals: Brazil | Netherlands
Finalists: Argentina
Winners: Germany

Star Man

Through the last couple of years, Bosnia-Herzegovina have relied on the spine of the team that was built from captain Emir Spahic, midfielder Miralem Pjanic and the star man up front Edin Dzeko -- but only one of them delivered in this tournament and that was one of the reasons of their failure. Pjanic was statistically the best player, but even he was stifled by Safet Susic's packed midfield. However, the Bosnians earned themselves a player for the future in Muhamed Besic. The young defensive midfielder, who was surprisingly introduced just before the World Cup, played well, confirming that he could be the one to rely on in the next qualifying campaign.

Edin Dzeko impressed in spells but endured a largely frustrating tournament as Bosnia left earlier than they had hoped.

Highlights

It must be the moment the team lined up for the national anthem in the iconic Maracana stadium in Rio before the Argentina match. It may sound strange, but for the country that went through a horrible war just 19 years ago and who struggled in the qualifiers for years -- including two appearances in the playoffs -- this was the best moment in their lifetime. Even an unlucky own goal and Lionel Messi's magic could not ruin the moment that will stay in the hearts of every Bosnian football fan forever.

Low Points

The one that should have been the best moment in Bosnian World Cup history -- Dzeko's disallowed goal against Nigeria. Until that point, Bosnia looked in control of the match and Dzeko's goal would have boosted their confidence. The question "what if" will be asked often in the next four years among Bosnians in late night pub chats. If that goal was not disallowed, they may have faced Iran for a place in the round of 16 and who knows what would've happen from there. We'll never know.

Lessons Learned

That inexperience proved their downfall. Even though the most important players in this team had experience playing at the top level for years, it seems that did not help. Those who promised so much ended up failing to deliver. Tactical naivety is a lesson that Susic may have learned, but it is hard to expect him to prove that when his contract expires after the tournament. The Dragons know they can compete with the best but there is a lot to improve in the future.