[wzslider]By: Medina Malagić
In what has been deemed a historical success, the B&H football team, popularly referred to as the ‘Dragons’, has entered the 2014 World Cup for the first time since the country gained independence in 1992. After last night’s 1:0 win over Lithuania, B&H finished in first place in Group G, and joined the ranks of England, Spain and Germany in the World Cup qualifications that will take place in Brazil next year.
Fireworks, flares, an abundance of B&H flags and the gathering of thousands of fans in front of BBI Center in Sarajevo and in central squares in cities throughout B&H marked the celebrations last night. The party continued into the night. The match was broadcast live in front of the BBI Center and was followed by a musical spectacle, where fans eagerly awaited the arrival of the B&H football team who returned to Sarajevo immediately after the match was over.
Triumphant Moment of Unity
The winning goal of the match came in the 68th minute from striker Vedad Ibišević, which was all that was needed to seal B&H’s entrance to the World Cup next year.
The win last night, and B&H’s first-place ranking in Group G, carries with it profound symbolism. For the people of B&H, the B&H football team represents unity, a concept that remains an elusive one and is in stark contrast to the institutionalized divisions that are responsible for most of the current problems in this country. The unity that the ‘Dragons’ exemplify is what many Bosnian-Herzegovinians wish would one day resonate throughout the entire country.
Since the conflict ended in the 1990’s, the war and subsequent division of the country and the numerous problems that prevent the country from functioning normally were almost always the focal point of global media coverage of B&H. Positive reports about B&H were rare. Now, the entrance of teams like England, Germany and Spain in the World Cup was overshadowed by global media reports on B&H’s first-ever qualifications to the 2014 World Cup.
Since last night, global media outlets such as BBC, Daily Mail and other influential sports outlets focused on the historic success of the team’s placement in the World Cup. Even though several media reports did made reference to the divisions and the conflict, it occupied the space of merely several lines that served more as an introductory note in order to place it in discernible contrast to the exuberant celebrations that took place all over B&H last night.
Now, the central focus is on the remarkable triumph of the team, which after 20 years of repeated failures and after nearly qualifying for global tournaments several times in the past few years has finally earned their deserved place in the 2014 World Cup in Brazil.
The gathering of over 50.000 fans in Sarajevo last night, who stayed long after the match was over to wait for the players to arrive in the central square so they could celebrate together, is just one testament to the vast importance that Bosnian-Herzegovinians place on this win and World Cup entrance. For many, this is a much-needed symbol of normality and positivity, manifested on the streets of Sarajevo and throughout B&H last night.
(Photo Sources: Facebook/Twitter)