Bosnia and Herzegovina

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Croatia great Prosinecki to coach Bosnian national team

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SARAJEVO, Bosnia-Herzegovina (AP) Former Croatia and Real Madrid midfielder Robert Prosinecki has been hired to coach the Bosnia and Herzegovina national team.

The Bosnian soccer federation says Prosinecki was picked ahead of Amar Osim, who was also interviewed.

Prosinecki spent the past three years coaching Azerbaijan’s national team.

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Bosnia is targeting the 2020 European Championship after failing to reach the past two major tournaments. The Balkan republic made its tournament debut as an independent nation at the 2014 World Cup.

Playing for Yugoslavia, Prosinecki was selected as the best young player at the 1990 World Cup. He helped Croatia finish third at the 1998 tournament.

Prosinecki won a European Cup title in 1991 with Red Star Belgrade, then moved to Madrid. He later played one season with Barcelona.

Sarachan to manage USMNT in January

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Dave Sarachan will put his unbeaten record on the line when the United States men’s national team hosts Bosnia and Herzegovina on Jan. 28.

The interim manager will maintain that title for next month’s camp, as the Associated Press says 30 players will meet him for training camp.

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Sarachan oversaw the United States’ 1-1 draw in Portugal last month, as Weston McKennie scored his first international goal.

The next international break is not until late March, and the U.S. announcement means any hiring of a permanent USMNT coach will not come until after the Feb. 10 presidential election in Orlando.

Of course, it’s also possible that U.S. Soccer waits until after the World Cup to see which names become available for hire after the tournament and club season.

Ranking the worst failures in World Cup qualifying

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So many high expectation nations missed the 2018 World Cup that a second-tier tournament is being bandied about, enough so that people are legitimately intrigued at the idea.

That begs the question: How did we get here? In some cases, sides missed the big dance due to wonky qualifying schedules. Others had tough draws and couldn’t rebound in a playoff. Another group just flat out flopped in red, white, and blue.

[ USMNT-PORTUGAL: Match recap | Player ratings ]

Who’s failure was most heinous? Let us count the ways, er, teams.

7) Netherlands — This is a nation that, like England, has overachieved so many times that neutrals expect more from them that, perhaps, is rational. Their domestic league is not what it once was, but finishing behind Sweden is a tough pill to swallow for a side which has been on the proverbial podium the past two World Cups and four times in its history.

6) Ivory Coast — Africa’s qualifying is brutal, but Les Elephants lost two of three home qualifiers and managed two scoreless draws away from home. In fact, the team was blanked thrice despite a unit with Gervinho, Salomon Kalou, Jonathan Kodija, and Wilfried Zaha. Yes, the nation is on a downswing, but still were the favorites to advance past Morocco.

5) Bosnia and Herzegovina — Perched atop the group for a decent period of qualifying, a loaded BNH side drew Greece home and away, lost in Cyprus, and lost at home to Belgium in a cycle which could’ve seen them make a deep run powered by Edin Dzeko, Sead Kolasinac, Asmir Begovic, and Miralem Pjanic.

4) Italy — The highest-ranked ELO team to miss the tournament, Italy had the misfortune of being drawn with Spain (and vice versa). Second-place there was no shame, but being unable to finish over two legs against Sweden may be understandable — Blågult only allowed nine goals in qualifying — but Gian Piero Ventura’s keeping Lorenzo Insigne out of the starting lineup will be questioned for a long, long time.

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3) Chile — CONMEBOL qualifying is as difficult as any confederation, and probably the toughest. Still, La Roja was shutout in six of its nine away qualifiers, including losses to eighth place Ecuador and ninth place Bolivia. For a side with Alexis Sanchez and Arturo Vidal to be blanked that many times? Brutal.

2) Ghana – At least the Ivory Coast finished second in its group! Ghana drew all three of its home matches, managing its only win at the Republic of Congo. That means Apparently the Black Stars couldn’t imagine a World Cup without the USMNT.

*1b) United States — With respect to the improving nature of CONCACAF, the confederation’s relative weakness and wildly forgiving Hex means the Bruce Arena’s men did as poorly as any decent nation in the world. To not even make a playoff is embarrassing, and the first leg of Honduras versus Australia lets you know all that’s needed about the quality of the lesser friends of CONCACAF.

*1a) Australia — The asterisks is important because the Socceroos dominated Honduras in the first leg only to not find a goal, and can still advance to the World Cup with a win at 4 a.m. ET in Sydney. But losing to Honduras after finishing behind Saudi Arabia on the weakness of handing Thailand one of its only two points of qualifying? Wooooof.

UEFA World Cup qualifying: France, Portugal clinch

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France and Portugal claimed the final two automatic berths in the 2018 World Cup on Tuesday, while three teams know they’ll need a playoff to go to Russia.

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Netherlands 2-0 Sweden

The Dutch needed to win and erase a big goal difference on Sweden, and only managed the latter through a pair of Arjen Robben goals. The first was a chipped penalty that nearly failed to find the net.

France 2-1 Belarus

Antoine Griezmann and Olivier Giroud helped Les Bleus build a 2-0 lead, and the French held on for a spot in Russia against visiting Belarus.

Portugal 2-0 Switzerland

It took an own goal to break this one open, as Johan Djourou of Antalyaspor had the ill fortune of putting the Swiss behind the 8-ball before Andre Silva scored a second despite a mistouch at the back post.

The loss was the only one of Switzerland’s qualifying campaign, as Portugal advanced on superior goal differential. The Swiss beat Portugal 2-0 in Sweden.

Greece 4-0 Gibraltar

This was supposed to be much easier for Greece, which needed a win to earn a playoff spot and was expected to dominate the minnows. Bologna’s Vasilis Torosidis scored the lone goal of the first half, and it took until after the hour mark for Kostas Mitroglou to salt away the result with 61st and 63rd minute goals.

Estonia 1-2 Bosnia and Herzegovina

Werder Bremen’s Izet Hajrovic scored twice for the visitors, whose form dipped precipitously over the final five matches to miss the World Cup.

Elsewhere

Luxembourg 1-1 Bulgaria
Hungary 1-0 Faroe Islands
Latvia 4-0 Andorra
Belgium 3-0 Cyprus

WATCH: Bosnia and Herzegovina fans litter field with flares

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Bosnia and Herzegovina went from the top of its World Cup qualifying group to needing a win and help to make the playoff.

This, it seems, has not impressed its supporters.

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The traveling BNH fans in Estonia have littered the field with flares during Tuesday’s qualifiers, knowing that even a win would likely mean nothing given Greece holding a two-point advantage and hosting minnows Gibraltar.

BNH drew Greece, lost at Cyprus, beat Gibraltar and fell at home to Belgium after beginning qualifying with a 3-1-1 record.

Angry? Sure, but inexcusable action from its supporters.