The 24-year-old has become one of the top central midfielders on the planet at Roma, but he is keen to play down Bosnia’s chances of dominance in Euro 2016 qualification
By Jasmin Ligata
Miralem Pjanic believes that Bosnia and Herzgovina are lagging behind Group B favourites Belgium in Euro 2016 qualification and has hailed Francesco Totti as his mentor at Roma.
Safet Susic’s side have been drawn alongside World Cup 2014 quarter-finalists Belgium, Israel, Wales, Cyprus and Andorra as they look to qualify for their first European Championship as an independent country.
Pjanic, who was part of the Bosnia squad that failed to get out of the group stage in Brazil this summer, is keen to play down expectations but hopes the Balkan nation can make their travelling supporters proud.
“Our Euros group is tougher than the one we had in the World Cup 2014 qualifiers but we have to qualify to fulfil our dream,” the central midfielder told Goal.
“Belgium are the favourites to win the group but we must not underestimate Wales, Israel and especially Cyprus as they are our first match.
“I believe a lot of fans will follow us again in the away matches and, because of them, we have an even larger responsibility to succeed.”
Pjanic was mentored by Juninho at Lyon and has been taking on board Totti and Daniele De Rossi’s tips while thriving at the Stadio Olimpico.
The 24-year-old hopes he can follow in his veteran team-mates’ footsteps by imparting his footballing wisdom on Roma youngsters.
“I learned a lot with Juninho, but also with Totti and De Rossi,” the Bosnian continued. “They accepted me brilliantly from the start.
“Those players are teachers and life coaches and I am grateful to them. And, of course, I am there to help any young player that comes to Roma.”
Bosnia kick off their Euro 2016 qualification campaign on Tuesday by hosting minnows Cyprus, with kick-off at 20:45CET.
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