PREPARATION FOR PORTUGAL...
A flow of Turkish tourists to Balkans is obvious in the last several years during “bayram” holidays. Tens of thousands of Turkish tourists flow to Balkans with reasonable tours. Since the bayram holidays are in Fall recently, the local tourism sector is happy with that, and since the prices are lower than in low season, the tours become more affordable. There are three basic routes: First one is Balkanic Danube, starting from Romania to Beograd. The second one is “Rumelija” tour, mostly involving Thessalonica through Bitola, Ohrid and Skopje. The thirds route starts from Montenegro and through amazing Adriatic coast, follows Dubrovnik and then reaches to Sarajevo following the route Pocitelj, Blagaj and Mostar. Last year, around 10.000 Turkish tourists followed that route and “occupied” Dubrovnik while there were no other tourist groups from other countries. That touristic “occupation” was referred frequently in Croatian newspapers being served with historical ironies.
My cousins involved in that touristic raid this year which made them to see Sarajevo for the first time. In November 8, Tuesday, around noon, when we were enjoying our coffees in Sarajevo’s Baščaršija, I saw Alen, an habitual Zeljeznicar fan. I do not see any problem to write his name in my blog since Alen is one of the most mediatic fans after giving an interview to documentary TV show “Frontline Football” in their episode for Bosnian – Serbian football match. (Here you can watch the documentary) If he is not the most mediatic one, surely he is the most athletic, can be always seen with his sport suits and sport bag.
I saw Alen with his sports bag and sports suit in Bascarsija. He asked me if I would attend to match in the evening.
It has been a long time that I was not interested in football matches in Bosnia since I submitted my dissertation. But, since some time, I began to follow matches again and surprisingly I did not have information about tonight’s match. There were no league matches because of the Bosnia-Portugal match and as far as I knew there were not cup matches as well. So, what was that match? Alen made it clear: At 18:00, Zeljeznicar and Bosnian national football team would play in Grbavica. It was both a part of 90th anniversary activities of Zeljeznicar, and a preparation match for the national squad.
The match took attention of my cousin, a hard core Boluspor fan, and we decided to be in the rows during the match.
Having walked the whole day, we were a quite a bit tired and we hardly left home. My cousin did not want to miss this opportunity to watch a game in Sarajevo, and the stadium was only 20 minutes walk from home. We dressed our Bosnia jerseys. It was not that much cold during the day, but Sarajevo becomes freezing when it gets dark. So, we wore some warm things as well. Luckily we did.
We bought the tickets for Grbavica Jug (South tribune of Grbavica) where TM87 stands. We were five minutes late for the match and we missed quite a lot during that 5 minutes. My cousin did not think that there would that amount of fans for a friendly game. Stadium was almost full. Of course, Grbavica Stadium’s location being in the middle of settlements is quite a lot effective as seen in the photo, but we should not underestimate the fever of Zeljo fans as well. (Photo: worldfootball.net)
When we entered the stadium, the cartons of the chorographical show and the mist from the flambeauxes were still dominating the scene of the stadium. When we looked at the scoreboard, we have realized that we even missed the early goal of Vedad İbisevic. Since there were not any seat on Jug, we began to watch the match on the bottom steps of stairs in the centre of Jug tribune. Some fans, whom I knew before told me the story how they swore on Medjunjanin during the match between Zeljo and Maccabi. (See: Zeljo - Maccabi)
Match was a real “friendly” game literally. Bosnia found the second goal again by İbisevic at 38th, and Zeljo had a quick reply on 40th by Beslija. In the half time, we began to look for somewhere to sit, as the place where we were standing was just under the place where the fanatics were cheering, which forced us to use our caps to protect ourselves from that “rain” from the mouths.
The second half was more like a struggle of tactics. Bosnia found many more position especially with Edin Dzeko, but could not manage to score. This is the most enjoyable part of Bosnian football. The midfield is usually very offensive and can find a lot of scoring positions. The center of the midfield is usually unused. In that sense, the match was quite enjoyable to watch. Even more enjoyable for my cousin, since it was not forbidden yet to smoke in stadiums in Bosnia. (It is forbidden in Turkey)
Bosnian nationals were not very ambitious in the second half, probably reserving their energy for Portugal match. Zeljo seemed to be more lively but there is no doubt about the difference between Zeljo and Bosnian national team in terms of quality of football. Despite there were no goals in the second half, we watched a nice match. Cross passes, even cross long passes were really amazing, as well as gentle ankle tackles and of course Yugoslav fault.
I never understand those who hate Yugoslav fault, which can be regarded as a security valve of offensive game that allows a team to attack without a fear of leaving empty space at the defense line. The only thing to avoid Yugoslav fault is that you have to arrange an offensive tactic as well. Sooner you pass the ball, lesser the opportunity to be subject to Yugoslav fault. Of course, to pass the ball, your offensive players should be ready in offense. So, if you will imprison eleven of your players in your half of field, you will be probably subject to Yugoslav fault before passing the ball. Of course, those players with higher technical capacity to escapee from tackles are really the most beautiful part of the game as well.
For almost 85 minutes, the fans have cheered for Zeljo, not Bosnian national squad. I did not expect something different. But, at least in the last five minutes, they did not forget their national teams...
Do you want to know why an anthropologist is interested in football culture in Bosnia and Herzegovina? Read More
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