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Široki Brijeg looking over their shoulders

NK Široki Brijeg are on top in Bosnia-Herzegovina at the winter break but captain Dalibor Šilić expects a "hard fight" in spring as just seven points separates the top six at the halfway point.

Široki Brijeg captain Dalibor Šilić is aiming for his third league title at the club
Široki Brijeg captain Dalibor Šilić is aiming for his third league title at the club ©Fedja Krvavac

Bosnia-Herzegovina's Premijer Liga has gone into the winter break with just seven points separating the top six at the halfway point of the 30-game season ahead of the resumption at the end of February.

One-point lead
NK Široki Brijeg may have made a stuttering start with two defeats and a draw among their first four games but they then embarked on an eleven-game unbeaten run in the league. Although that was ended by a 4-1 loss at NK Zrinjski in their last match before the two-month interval, they lead the way by a point from FK Borac Banja Luka, who missed the chance to overtake them was they went down 1-0 at home to FK Sarajevo.

Šilić's hope
Borac are far from Široki Brijeg's only challengers. Sarajevo are three points behind Borac and although within sight of the top are FK Velež – who boast ten-goal top scorer Adin Džafić – FK Željezničar and reigning champions Zrinjski. Široki Brijeg captain Dalibor Šilić, who knows all about winning the league having done so with his current club in 2003/04 and 2005/06 as well with previous sides NK Brotnjo and Željezničar, said: "We are expecting a hard fight in the spring. We mustn't underestimate any team from the top part of the table, even though we have a slight advantage. I'm convinced that we can be the best in the country again."

Željezničar revival
Some of that threat comes from the capital, in the shape of Sarajevo and Željezničar. Lying fifth, six points off first, Željezničar have performed well in a season which they began with a fresh coach, Amar Osim, and a new side following a ninth-placed 2008/09 finish. Although two opening victories were followed by a six-game winless spell, their league form picked up and they are also through to the cup semi-finals along with Borac – who knocked out Široki Brijeg – holders FK Slavija Sarajevo and Zrinjski.

The league titleholders themselves may have moved to within seven points of Široki Brijeg with their victory there but Zrinjski were expected to be higher than sixth at this stage. Also surprising are the struggles of Slavija, NK Čelik and FK Sloboda Tuzla, all in the bottom four, ahead of FK Laktaši. Two of that quartet have changed coach with Adnan Osmanhodžić having taken over from Nermin Hadžiahmetović at Sloboda and Laktaši replacing Milan Milanović with Miodrag Petrović. Meanwhile, FK Olimpik Sarajevo – who came up with FK Rudar Prijedor in the summer – are on to their third coach of the season in the shape of Edin Prljača, following his replacement of Vlatko Glavaš.