CUIABA, Brazil (AP) — Proclaimed an independent state in 1992, Bosnia-Herzegovina has been waiting more than two decades to appear at a World Cup.
When the country did finally make it to football's biggest stage, the team was eliminated from contention in barely a week.
Consecutive losses — 2-1 against Argentina in its opener and then 1-0 to Nigeria on Saturday — confirmed that the Bosnians will not advance from the group stage on their tournament debut.
"They are all depressed, disappointed, silent in the dressing room," Bosnia-Herzegovina coach Safet Susic said of his players. "It's true, if our best players play at their best level, we can beat anybody. If they don't, it's difficult for us to win."
They won't be departing with a whimper either, with star striker Edin Dzeko not holding back in his criticism of the match officials after they disallowed a goal for offside in the 21st minute against Nigeria. The score was 0-0 at the time and replays appeared to show Dzeko may have been onside.
Dzeko was asked what happened to Bosnia's campaign.
"The referee happened," he said. "We are going home, we are sad because of that, but the referee should go home, too. Because he changed the result, he changed the game, and that's why we lost.
"The referee was shameful for this competition."
There was more to Bosnia-Herzegovina's exit, though, than a contentious refereeing decision.
The Bosnians were unfortunate to run into Lionel Messi in their first game, with the Argentina maestro scoring a brilliant individual goal that proved to be the winner.