Bosnia pick two strikers in World Cup squad

Entering their first ever World Cup as an independent nation, Bosnia have released a provisional 24-man squad to take to Brazil in the summer

Bosnia-Herzegovina will be reliant on Edin Dzeko and Vedad Ibisevic as their only strike options at next month’s World Cup as they announce their squad for the competition.

The two front men started every one of Bosnia’s 10 qualifying matches as Safet Susic’s men reached their first ever finals as an independent nation by topping Group G on goal difference ahead of Greece.

Dzeko and Ibisevic were instrumental in their successful campaign, netting 18 goals between them, and Susic named a 24-man squad on Monday with the pair named as the only two out-and-out strikers.

The squad will have to be cut by one by the time the tournament comes round, with Bosnia drawn against Argentina, Iran and Nigeria in Group F in Brazil.

Two men sure to be included in the final party are Dzeko and Ibisevic, who will spearhead the Bosnian attack, while Stoke goalkeeper Asmir Begovic will be a key member at the other end of the field.

Susic discussed the inclusion of Ferencvaros’ Muhamed Besic, praising the defender’s performances for his club side.

“He is the only player who can stop Lionel Messi,” he is quoted as saying by Klix. “I have had no problems with him, he’s playing wonderfully in Hungary.

“He’s a good guy and I think he has a bright future when it comes to the team.

“Our goal is to pass into the second round. Whether we realise it, that’s another thing. I do not believe that Nigeria and Iran are a better team at the moment. I hope we can be among the top 16.”

Squad in full:

Goalkeepers: Asmir Avdukic (Borac Banja Luka), Asmir Begovic (Stoke City), Jasmin Fezjic (Aalen).

Defenders: Muhamed Besic (Ferencvaros), Ermin Bicakcic (Eintracht Braunschweig), Sead Kolasinac (Schalke), Emir Spahic (Bayer Leverkusen), Toni Sunjic (Zorya), Ognjen Vranjes (Elazigspor), Ervin Zukanovic (Gent).

Midifelders: Anel Hadzic (Sturm Graz), Izet Hajrovic (Galatasaray), Senijad Ibricic (Erciyespor), Senad Lulic (Lazio), Haris Medunjanin (Gaziantepspor), Zvjezdan Misimovic (Guizhou Renhe), Mensur Mujdza (Freiburg), Miralem Pjanic (Roma), Sejad Salihovic (Hoffenheim), Tino Susic (Hajduk Split), Edin Visca (Istanbul BB), Avdija Vrsajevic (Hajduk Split).

Forwards: Edin Dzeko (Manchester City), Vedad Ibisevic (Stuttgart).

Ljajic hails Pjanic: It was a once-in-a-lifetime goal against AC Milan

The Serbia international was left in awe of his team-mate, who danced his way through the Rossoneri defence before opening the scoring at the Stadio Olimpico with a cool finish

Adem Ljajic has praised Roma team-mate Miralem Pjanic for his once-in-a-lifetime goal in Friday’s 2-0 win over AC Milan.

With Juventus on the verge of another title, Rudi Garcia’s men had to pick up maximum points to prevent the Turin giants potentially claiming the crown on Monday night, and the Bosnian’s fine solo goal combined with Gervinho’s second-half strike to secure maximum points for the capital side.

And Ljajic paid tribute to his colleague for making a vital breakthrough, with Pjanic jinking his way past two players as he danced his way straight through the heart of the Milan defence before coolly sliding the ball past Christian Abbiati.

“In the first 15 minutes, we didn’t play well but then we raised our rhythm and Pjanic scored a goal the likes of which you only see once in your life,” he enthused. “After the break, we played our game and the victory arrived like this.

“We’re not going to give up until the end but it doesn’t depend solely on us. We’re waiting for Juventus here [on May 9]. We can win against anyone.”

Meanwhile, Ljajic revealed that he wants to remain at Roma “for a long time” but says that his future will only be decided at the end of the season.

The Serbia international only joined the Giallorossi from Fiorentina for an initial €11 million last summer but he has failed to nail down a regular starting berth in Rudi Garcia’s team, and Viola boss Vincenzo Montella admitted last week that he would welcome the 22-year-old back at the Artemio Franchi with open arms.

However, while Ljajic freely admits the he does not know what the future holds for him, he is hoping that he will still be at the Stadio Olimpico next season.

“I hope to stay at Roma for a long time,” the attacker told Sky Sport Italia. “I like this city and I like playing in this team.

“We’ll see at the end of the season what the club decide. We’ll speak again when the championship’s finished.”

Roma will do everything to catch Juve, says Pjanic

Rudi Garcia’s side pulled themselves closer to Juve with three games left to play and the Bosnia international insists they are still determined to catch the leaders

Miralem Pjanic insists Roma will do everything they can to beat Juventus to the title.

The Giallorossi pulled to within five points of the league leaders following their 2-0 win over AC Milan on Friday night, with Antonio Conte’s side still to play Sassuolo on Monday.

And with just three weeks left of the campaign, Roma could pull themselves even closer to the Bianconeri when the two sides meet in the penultimate game of the season.

“We’ll end the season on a high, then see what Juve do. If they win, the chances will be minimal,” Pjanic told Roma’s official TV channel.

“We’ve got to keep giving joy to our fans, as this has been a wonderful season. It’s a shame we’re not top after everything we’ve achieved.

“We’ll do everything to catch Juventus in the remaining three games. There is such a great atmosphere around the team and an incredible season. We want to continue like this.

“It was a great game, a great goal, so I am even happier for this victory.”

Roma continue their title challenge next weekend with a trip to Catania.

Benatia slams referee for penalty mix-up

The Morocco international suggested the official asked the Sassuolo forward to tell the truth before revoking the spot kick in Roma’s favour

Roma defender Mehdi Benatia has criticised referee Nicola Rizzoli after he claims the official Nicola Sansone if he was fouled before overturning his decision to give Sassuolo a penalty in Sunday’s match.

The incident occurred in the first half of the Giallorossi’s 2-0 win over Sassuolo, with Sansone going down inside the box under a challenge from Benatia causing the referee pointed to the spot.

But after five minutes of protests from the Roma players, Rizzoli changed his mind and awarded a dropped ball and Benatia was unhappy with the way that the official went about deciding what to do.

“In my view, the referee didn’t want to give the penalty and the official behind the line called him over, but they didn’t understand each other,” Benatia told Sky Sport.

“Then he asked Sansone to tell the truth, but we were all angry, because you can’t ask a player who is desperate for points to avoid relegation if he was fouled or not.

“He said: ‘I slipped, but Benatia pulled my shirt.’ So the referee said ‘In that case, no it’s not a penalty.’ Thankfully it all went the right way in the end.

“You can’t ask a desperate player if he was fouled.”

Roma’s victory pulls them to within 11 points of leaders Juventus, who face third-placed Napoli this evening, but despite the gargantuan gap between the two teams Miralem Pjanic believes the title race is still on.

“Tonight, the two teams around us go head-to-head, but all that counts is for us to win,” the Bosnian said. “Then we’ll see what happens, but it will be a tough race right to the bitter end. We want to finish this season off well.

“Are we still looking in front of us? Certainly, nothing is finished yet. If Juve get a negative result, then we’re watching.

“We are doing well, but we also know that it won’t be easy for us today, as Sassuolo are at the last chance saloon. We must stay concentrated.”

Roma boss Garcia unconcerned by PSG & Barcelona interest in Pjanic

The Bosnia and Herzegovina international is being tracked by some of Europe’s elite clubs but the French trainer says he is ‘not worried’ about the transfer talk

Roma boss Rudi Garcia insists that he is unconcerned by the speculation linking midfielder Miralem Pjanic with Barcelona and Paris Saint-Germain.

The Blaugrana have identified the Bosnia and Herzegovina international as a potential replacement for veteran playmaker Xavi, while PSG are expected to return with a summer bid for the 23-year-old after being put off by the €55 million fee they were quoted by the Giallorossi during the January transfer window.

However, Garcia says that he is not paying the slightest bit of attention to the transfer talk surrounding Pjanic.

“I’m not worried,” the French trainer told reporters on Saturday. “I have spoken with him for a long time.

“He should only be concentrated on the pitch – and he is. There’s no immediate rush [to sort out his future].”

Garcia was also asked about his own contractual situation at the Stadio Olimpico, given there have been reports that he has rejected an extension to his current deal.

“Right now we should all be concentrated on qualifying directly for the Champions League, which is our primary objective,” the former Lille boss stated.

“I’m happy here; I can confirm that. But that I have rejected the renewal is one of your interpretations.”

Garcia declared that his sole focus at the moment is on Sunday’s Serie A clash with Sassuolo, who claimed a shock 0-0 draw in the Italian capital earlier in the season.

“I hope to win at Sassuolo,” he confessed. “In the first game, we had made many victories in a row at home and then we drew, even though everyone had been saying that we had already won the game.

“So, tomorrow we must be at 100 per cent.”

Roma sit second in Serie A, six points clear of third-placed Napoli and with a game in hand.