Bosnia and Herzegovina may not have taken full advantage of the rousing atmosphere at Stadium Bilino Polje on Friday, but midfielder Miralem Pjanić remains convinced that Safet Sušić's side can edge past Portugal and make UEFA EURO 2012 their first major final tournament.
Substitute Vedad Ibišević spurned a fine late chance as the hosts scrambled for a first-leg advantage and they were forced to settle for a goalless draw at the end of a lively game. They can now expect a real test at the Estádio do SL Benfica in Lisbon on Tuesday, but Pjanić is by no means intimidated.
"We're still confident for what is to come," he told UEFA.com. "If we score a goal over there, I think we'll go through. They would then have to score two, and we have the players to [stop them]. It's all still open, so it's going to be a great match."
Having drawn 1-1 away against France in their final qualifier in Group D, confidence is high in the Bosnian camp, and the players appear to be relishing the prospect of playing at another iconic stadium. "We're going there to play our game, our football," said Pjanić. "We showed in France that we can do it. We're not scared.
"It's not just tonight that we've shown we've matured," he added. "We're a team that's constantly progressing and we're managing to rival the big teams.
What we want is to be in the big competitions, and we're going to participate in the next one."
The AS Roma schemer had suggested before the first leg that a goalless draw would represent a good result for Bosnia and Herzegovina, and he maintained that everything is going according to plan. "Of course, I've not changed my opinion," he said. "We managed not to concede a goal, which is just what we wanted to do. Now we know we're going to play on a better pitch over there, in conditions that suit us more, so it'll be easier in that sense, even if it will still be tough."
Pjanić's midfield counterpart Rúben Micael is also expecting a high-quality contest in Lisbon after Portugal dominated early on in Zenica. "We're not disappointed," he said. "We knew it would be a tough match in a difficult stadium to come to – with a difficult pitch too – but we showed we can play whatever the conditions."
The Real Zaragoza midfielder was also full of praise for returning defenders Pepe and Fábio Coentrão, the duo having held firm to leave the UEFA EURO 2004 finalists well placed to stamp their ticket to Poland and Ukraine. "They're both very important players for us and everybody knows the quality they have," he said. "I think Pepe was absolutely phenomenal tonight, and when you have players like that in the team, it makes things much easier."
©UEFA.com 1998-2017. All rights reserved.