Beaten in both of their opening UEFA Regions' Cup games, Tuzla will be returning home to Bosnia and Herzegovina with their share of regrets, but everyone who has watched them in action in Dublin has been left with a very powerful impression of Dževad Sećerbegović's side.
They take on finalists Eastern Region IRL in their last match at Tallaght Stadium on Wednesday, with one of their number at least – Meris Mešanović – having proved to be a player worthy of performing at the largest venue being used for the world's top amateur football tournament. The 25-year-old's pace, passing, touch and aggression have been evident to everyone who has seen him, whether he has been deployed as a rampaging right-back or in his preferred position as a forward.
In their first outing, Tuzla were beaten 1-0 by a rugged South Moravia side, despite doing much of the running at UCD Bowl, and passed up enough chances to have put their second match well beyond Ankara before two late Salih Ucan goals earned the Turkish selection a 2-1 win. "Well, in two near-identical matches we really didn't have the run of the ball," shrugged mining student Mešanović, who comes from Zivinice and plays his club football for NK Priluk in one of his nation's three parallel amateur third divisions.
Still, the opportunity to come out to Dublin has not been a waste of time by any means, with Mešanović glad to have had the platform to show what he can do in such great conditions. "Qualifying for this competition has been so important for this team," he explained. "Just to have the chance to come to this beautiful country, have these great places to train, show what we are capable of and show that we deserve to be here."
Eastern Region IRL coach Gerry Smith has made it clear that – even though they have nothing riding on the Group A fixture – he expects his charges to be on their game, with final places at stake. For his part, Mešanović is determined to enjoy representing his country one more time. "It's every player's dream to wear the national shirt, including us amateurs. Here, our wish came true. Results-wise, it's not the way we wanted this all to end, but we will do our best to improve things, win the last match and go home with a smile."
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