I am sure I am not alone when I, along with football fans around the country, collectively breathe a sigh of relief that we have finally reached the mid-season interlude in the International calendar. We can look forward to four months of uninterrupted weekends filled with Premier League games. This period in the season I always look forward to as my family and I get to see more of Asmir at home. The commitment to International football can be really hard for the families and the players due to the regular and long periods of separation. However, if results for qualifiers haven’t been favourable for Asmir and Bosnia then the extended break between games can be an anxious one as they anticipate their next qualifiers. That brings me nicely onto the next chapter.
It has been a disappointing start to Bosnia’s European 2016 qualifying campaign having lost two games and drawn two games. This has left Bosnia hovering just one place from the bottom of the table. It is a far cry from the dizzying heights of topping the table for their World Cup qualification. The real battle will commence in March when Bosnia meet Andorra with a new manager (still to be decided) at the helm. The presence of a new manager will require quick adjustment from the players and staff with only days to prepare together. Asmir though is looking forward to a fresh and new chapter for the team and is optimistic for their remaining games. Although, Asmir knows that it won’t be easy with qualification relying on Bosnia winning their remaining six games to secure even a play-off place for Euro 2016.
One positive though to take away from Bosnia’s 3-0 defeat to Israel was seeing Asmir captain his Country for the very first time, a role that Asmir filled with natural ease and skill. His innate ability for leadership is a crucial trait for top goalkeepers. The response to Asmir’s captaincy was really overwhelming and very positive. Once Edin Dzeko reaches full fitness, he will resume as Captain with Asmir Vice-Captain, two players and people well suited for these most coveted roles.
Football of the 'American' Variety…
Our annual pilgrimage to Wembley to watch the NFL came around quickly this year. It was this time last year that Asmir and I introduced Ryan and Kath Shawcross to the delights of the American game of ‘football’. This was not before enjoying the fantastic win against Spurs earlier that day. Kath and I made our way by train for a fun filled weekend in London for a rare few days off. With International break starting that weekend we were delighted to be joined by Asmir’s Bosnian teammates, Haris Medunjanin (Deportivo de La Coruña) and Mensur Mujdza (SC Freiburg), both of whom Asmir has a very good friendship with. It was a treat for them to get a chance to watch a Premier League game as they both play in Spain and Germany respectively.
Having been a big fan the Spanish Riding School in Vienna for many years, I was delighted when they contacted me to arrange tickets to the Spurs game. So there I was, joined by five of the infamous Spanish Riding School riders (that’s a really big deal for me as a Dressage rider as they are iconic in the equestrian world), who enjoyed a traditional beer and a good game of English football. They thoroughly enjoyed themselves as the atmosphere was fantastic with non-stop singing from the Stoke fans throughout the match that kept them smiling.
As soon as the final whistle blew, I waved off the Spanish riders as they had to head to the stables to train their horses for their upcoming shows at Wembley Arena. The Bosnian contingent, along with Ryan, Kath, Asmir and myself, jumped into our waiting van to be whisked off to Wembley Stadium to see the Jacksonville Jaguars take on the Dallas Cowboys. We made it just in time to witness the beautiful and emotional tribute to our fallen hero’s, as it was Remembrance Sunday, along with the fantastic National anthems of Great Britain and the United States. As usual, the organisers never fail to impress bringing the authentic game-day entertainment (including the cheerleaders) and hospitality all the way across the Atlantic.
The next day, before Asmir departed to Bosnia, we made a visit to the Tate Modern on the bank of the Thames for a private tour of their galleries for some cultural enrichment. I thoroughly enjoyed it and having a well educated expert guide us in discussions made me appreciate art in a whole new way. Something I would recommend to anyone visiting a gallery. Till next time …