The Bosnia-Herzegovnian capital is buzzing as FK Sarajevo attempt to succeed where neighbours NK Željezničar failed as they take on FC Dynamo Kyiv.
The Bosnia-Herzegovnian capital is buzzing as FK Sarajevo attempt to succeed where neighbours NK Željezničar failed, against FC Dynamo Kyiv on Wednesday.
Five years ago Željezničar reached the UEFA Champions League third qualifying round only to lose to Newcastle United FC, and having knocked out Marsaxlokk FC and KRC Genk, Sarajevo now have the chance to achieve the near impossible by overcoming Dinamo and booking a group stage place.
It is the biggest game the club have played since the 0-0 home draw with Manchester United FC in the first leg of a 1967/68 European Champion Clubs' Cup tie, which preceded a 2-1 defeat. The postponement of their weekend league fixture against FK Modriča has given Husref Musemić's team some extra days to ponder their task.
"We must give our all and try to spring a surprise," said Semjon Milošević, one of the stars of the victory against Belgian side Genk. "We have plenty of information about Dynamo – we know they have weaknesses so we just need to work out how to take advantage of them." Musemić added: "Although our visitors are the favourites, we will not play a minor role."
A win against Dynamo would be a major highlight of Sarajevo's 60th anniversary celebrations; it would also represent a massive upset, despite the poor form the Ukrainian champions have shown in winning just one of their opening five league matches. Dynamo certainly will not be taking their opponents lightly.
"You have to be ready to beat any opponent on your way to the UEFA Champions League group stage," said coach Anatoliy Demyanenko, who led his team to their first three points of the campaign on Saturday, at FC Metalurh Zaporizhya. "We should not underestimate Sarajevo. They deserve respect for their win against the Belgian league runners-up."
Dynamo's Serbian international Goran Gavrančić is not about to dismiss Sarajevo's chances either. "We have to go through, but the Sarajevo players are well known for their commitment and fighting spirit," he said. "They will do their best not to lose and will fight until the end. Speed and skill are our advantages. We have to make them count in the first leg."