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Tuzla take their stand

From the north of Bosnia-Herzegovina, Tuzla Canton AMA hope to prove that the region famous for salt mines is also a hotbed of footballing talent.

In the north of Bosnia-Herzegovina, Tuzla Canton is famous for the local salt mines but is also a hotbed of footballing talent. Tuzla-based FK Sloboda are the biggest professional side in the region, but the area's extensive amateur footballing network has produced a number of top players over the years.

Tough qualifiers
The local football federation boasts the most amateur clubs and players in the nation, with president Fikret Mujkić saying: "We have around 80 clubs with around 7,000 amateur players." With all of that talent to choose from, Tuzla Canton AMA impressed in qualifying, winning the fiercely contested Group 3 on home soil with draws against sides from Russia and Hungary preceding a decisive 1-0 win against Varazdin AMA from neighbouring Croatia.

'Good players'
"We have good players, who want to prove their quality," said coach said Fuad Grbešić. "We have been training together for a long time now, firstly throughout the local competitions in Bosnia and Herzegovina and then preparing for qualification for the UEFA Regions' Cup finals. There will be some good teams in Bulgaria but if we get the chance to reach the finals, we will not pass it up."

High spirits
The prospect of playing at a final tournament has kept spirits high among the Tuzla Canton team, who will be hoping to improve on the performance of the national amateur team at the 2001 UEFA Regions' Cup finals, where Bosnia-Herzegovina AMA finished third in the section, drawing their first game, losing the second and winning their final match.