When prolific 35-year-old Hakan Şükür struck early on his 110th international appearance in Bosnia-Herzegovina on Saturday night it looked like Group C leaders Turkey were on their way to yet another UEFA EURO 2008™ victory. However, by the final whistle in Sarajevo, much of the spotlight was on a lesser known forward making his national-team debut.
The 21-year-old Edin Džeko has enjoyed a terrific season at Czech club FK Teplice playing every one of their 30 league games, scoring 13 goals. The tall striker was duly given his first national-team chance by Bosnia-Herzegovina coach Fuad Muzurović and did not disappoint. Just as Turkey looked like going into the interval at the Asim Ferhatović Hase Stadium with a 2-1 lead, Muzurović's young protégé was to have the last word. In added time, he connected with Vedin Musić's long pass before rifling in from the edge of the area. It gave the hosts the confidence they needed before their half-time pep talk and a last-gasp strike from Adnan Ćustović won it for Bosnia-Herzegovina.
Džeko was naturally delighted at the final whistle, but could not quite believe his achievement. "This was my first match wearing the colors of the national team, and in the first match I scored," he said. "At first, I was a bit anxious, but after I scored, everything went just fine." Muzurović suggested the victory would give his men the inspiration to go all the way. "This was a terrific game," he said. "They took the lead two times, but we managed to draw level twice and then win in the end. Now, we can say that we have a chance to fight for EURO 2008™. However, Turkey are still the favourites."
The 20,000 fans who witnessed the victory, Turkey's first defeat in the campaign, are beginning to believe their favourites have a real chance of reaching a major finals for the first time. Bosnia-Herzegovina now face lowly Malta at home on Wednesday knowing another win would put them level on points with Turkey, who have to wait until 8 September for their next fixture against the same opponents. Bosnia-Herzegovina will also be aware they have to improve their defensive record - no team in the section has conceded more than their 14 goals against - but with the likes of Džeko up front, success could yet be coming to Sarajevo.
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