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Osim card coming up trumps at Željezničar

Ivica Osim led FK Željezničar to the 1984/85 UEFA Cup semi-finals, and son Amar – back at the club after a six-year absence – also has big European ambitions for the Sarajevo Railwaymen.

Željezničar coach Amar Osim
Željezničar coach Amar Osim ©Fedja Krvavac

Back at FK Željezničar after a six-year absence, Amar Osim is fulfilling his aim to create a team "that will play an important role in the coming seasons" in Bosnia-Herzegovina.

The 42-year-old Osim led the Sarajevo Railwaymen (Željo for short) to back-to-back titles in his first two seasons, 2001/02 and 2002/03, as well as two domestic cups before being dismissed at the start of the 2003/04 campaign. However, after a spell with JEF United in Japan – initially under his father Ivica – the younger Osim resumed control at Željezničar in July, and is doing well.

Fifth in the league at the winter break, seven points adrift of leaders NK Široki Brijeg, Osim's side's big target it to make it back into Europe for the first time since they were thrashed by PFC Litex Lovech in the 2004/05 UEFA Cup second qualifying round. "Our aim was to create a team to play an important role in the coming seasons," the former Željezničar player explained.

For the moment, they have two chances to make it into Europe; through the league and the Kup Bosne i Hercegovine, where they will compete in the semi-finals in the spring. "We can make it to the UEFA Europa League through either," said Osim. "The competition in the cup is tough, but Željezničar have played well and I hope we'll reach the final."

European competition at Željezničar has a special resonance in the Osim family. Ivica, now 68, led the club to the semi-finals of the 1984/85 UEFA Cup, losing out to Hungarian side FC Videoton. Amar Osim has enjoyed some success himself, his side reaching the 2002/03 UEFA Champions League third qualifying round – but they were no match for Newcastle United FC, losing 5-0 on aggregate.

With the season resuming on 27 February, Željezničar and their rivals are all back in training, with most planning trips to sunnier climes ahead of the restart. Meanwhile, the winter has been harsh for the Premijer Liga's coaches, with a number of changes.

Vlatko Glavaš and Goran Skakić became the third coaches this season of FK Sloboda Tuzla and FK Leotar, respectively. Zoran Ćurguz has replaced Amir Durgutović at NK Zvijezda Gradačac, Zoran Marić has come in following Velimir Stojnić's retirement at FK Borac Banja Luka while German coach Thomas Geist will look to stop the rot at bottom club FK Laktaši following the departure of Milan Petković.