Bosnia and Herzegovina – Goalkeeper Assessment
World Cup 2014

Gerry Montague @gerry_montague

This summer, Bosnia and Herzegovina are making their inaugural appearance at the FIFA World Cup. Part of Yugoslavia prior to 1990 and competing as an independent nation since 1996, BIH have enough well-known, highly experienced players to make more than a short visit to Brazil this summer. Led by strikers Edin Džeko and Vedad Ibišević along with midfielders Miralem Pjanić and Sejad Salihović, BIH has plenty of world-class talent but it may be their starting goalkeeper, Asmir Begović, who sees them advance beyond the group stage.

The pool of goalkeepers for BiH is not deep, Asmir Begović is the unquestioned #1. Having quickly emerged into a top international goalkeeper and mainstay with English Premier League side Stoke City, Begović has been linked with a potential move to Spanish giants Real Madrid. Although he only has 27 caps, Begović appears to be the top choice for BiH for the next several years and through Euro 2016 and WC 2018 qualifying. After Begović, there are several other choices with only one name even vaguely familiar to fans outside of Bosnia – Zlatan Alomerović of Borussia Dortmund. Asmir Avdukić (32, 3 caps) and Jasmin Fejzić (27, 0 caps) are the most recent call-ups to the national team but both are expected to provide cover for Begović, neither is a threat to win the starting job unless Begović is injured.

The Best…

Name: Asmir Begović
Age: 26
Club Side: Stoke City FC (England)
Strengths: Very strong with his feet (scored goal from his own penalty area against Southampton earlier this season – albeit wind-aided), great reflexes, solid shot-stopper. Has represented both Canada and BIH at the international level.
Weakness: No considerable weaknesses.

Begović is currently the #1 not only for his country but for EPL side Stoke City. His skill and consistent play has kept Dane Thomas Sørensen and possible future England #1 Jack Butland out of Stoke’s line-up. Born in Bosnia but raised in Germany and Canada, Begović has playing experience in Europe and North America. He has played in the EPL for both Portsmouth and Stoke City. Having trained in Germany as a youth and having competed for Canada at the 2007 U20 World Cup, Begović brings a far more developed, well-travelled skill set than most eastern European players. Able to deal with the continual barrage of crosses and skillful attacking players in the EPL, exceptionally strong with his feet and experienced against several styles of play (Bosnia, Germany, Canada, Belgium and England), expect the 6’6” Begović to add to his 27 caps for BIH for the foreseeable future.

The Rest…

Name: Asmir Avdukić
Age: 32
Club Side: Borac Banja Luka (Bosnia)
Strengths: Oldest goalkeeper on BiH’s World Cup roster, may be a calming influence for Begović, able to provide cover without threatening his starting role.
Weakness: Apart from brief loan to Persepolis in Iran, has never played outside of BiH’s domestic league, has only 3 caps, not expected to see any playing time in Brazil.

Name: Jasmin Fejzić
Age: 27
Club Side: VfR Aalen (Germany)
Strengths: Plays for VfR Aalen in Germany’s Bundesliga 2, made two appearances in the Bundesliga for SpVgg Greuther Furth. Is 6’6” enabling him to be a strong aerial presence.
Weakness: Little experience against top players having played only two matches in the Bundesliga with the vast majority of his professional performances coming in Germany’s lower leagues. Is uncapped for BiH, would not be close to Begović’s standard if called into action.

Name: Jasmin Buric
Age: 27
Club Side: Lech Poznan (Poland)
Strengths: Plays for Lech Poznan in Poland’s Ekstraklasa, one of the most consistent goalkeepers in the Ekstraklasa over the past few years. Is 6’4” enabling him to be a strong aerial presence.
Weakness: Little experience against top players as he has been limited to playing Poland’s domestic league. Has only a single cap for BiH, would not be close to Begović’s standard if called into action. Has missed much of the 2013-14 season due to injury, may not be ready to be called into the national side.

Name: Zlatan Alomerović
Age: 22
Club Side: Borussia Dortmund (Germany)
Strengths: Plays for BVB, top Bundesliga club giving him access to top goalkeeper coaching and training facilities. Still only 22-years-old, will likely declare for BiH rather than Germany and could take over for Begović as the future #1 for his country.
Weakness: Never capped for BiH, has yet to make Bundesliga debut for BVB, and is short by Bosnian standards at 6’1”. Holds both Bosnian and German passports, has yet to decide international future but with an army of world class keepers already in Germany’s side, may be the future of Bosnian goalkeeping.

Name: Senedin Oštraković
Age: 26
Club Side: FK Velez Mostar (Bosnia)
Strengths: Not known outside of BiH, set a Total Premijer Liga record: 58 games, 46 conceded, 28 clean sheets in a single season.
Weakness: A virtual unknown, uncapped for BiH, highly unlikely to make the World Cup roster. Has played professionally in Bosnia and Kazakhstan, has never faced the level of talent found in Europe’s more modest leagues.

Name: Ibrahim Šehić
Age: 25
Club Side: Qarabağ (Azerbaijan)
Strengths: Three caps for full BiH national team, 11 for the U21s. Was the youngest team captain FK Željezničar’s history. Has played in Turkey, BiH and Azerbaijan.
Weakness: Also unlikely to make the World Cup roster. Although he has played professionally in multiple countries, has never faced the level of talent found in Europe’s more modest leagues.

Name: Kenan Pirić
Age: 21
Club Side: KAA Gent (Belgium)
Strengths: BiH U21 goalkeeper with 3 caps. Recent moved from domestic league to KAA Gent in Belgium.
Weakness: Is a long way from being the full national team #1.