FK Borac Banja Luka and FK Željezničar are locked together on 50 points at the top of the Bosnian-Herzegovinian Premier League with just five rounds of fixtures remaining. While Borac have been setting the pace throughout, Željezničar have come into the reckoning far later having been seven points adrift in fifth going into the winter break.
NK Široki Brijeg headed the top flight at that time but they have since dropped back to third, eight points off the co-leaders, who now look set to fight for the title in a two-horse race. Though Željezničar currently top the table on goal difference, Borac's superior head-to-head record means they will be crowned champions should the two teams finish level on points after the final day.
The long-time leaders' season has been far from plain sailing, however. Key striker Nemanja Bilbija, who had six league goals to his name, left for Serbian outfit FK Vojvodina during the winter break while Velimir Stojnić's departure as coach presented the club with another hurdle to overcome. Zoran Marić has since assumed the reins and Bosnian international Vule Trivunović has returned to help shore up defence after a three-year stint with FC Khimki of Russia.
"I came back to help my home team," said Trivunović. "We are in sight of a great success. We have a chance to win a double, although we have extremely strong competition in Željezničar in both competitions: the championship and the Bosnian and Herzegovinian Cup. I would be happy to win one of those."
Though success in the two-legged final against Željezničar would earn Borac silverware, it is the league that provides far greater rewards. The winners will earn a place in the UEFA Champions League second qualifying round while both the runners-up and third-placed finishers will enter the first qualifying round of the UEFA Europa League. Either would be a success for Borac just five years after they were relegated to the second tier.
Although former leaders NK Široki Brijeg currently occupy the final European berth, there is a four-pronged chasing pack containing NK Zrinjski, FK Sarajevo, FK Velež and FK Leotar all within five points.
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