CUIABA, Brazil (AP) — Just a few weeks ago, Edin Dzeko was being heralded as the best player in the English Premier League by no less an esteemed judge as Jose Mourinho.
On Friday, the Bosnia-Herzegovina striker was being compared with probably the three best players in the world.
"He is equally important to us as Cristiano Ronaldo is for Portugal, as Neymar is to Brazil, as Messi to Argentina," Bosnia-Herzegovina coach Safet Susic said. "That is how important he is to us."
The Manchester City star has quite a billing to live up to at the World Cup but he started off slowly, well contained in the team's 2-1 loss to Argentina in their Group F opener.
With the Bosnia-Herzegovina team's future in Brazil already on the line, the pressure is on Dzeko to deliver goals against Nigeria in Cuiaba on Saturday to keep the newcomers alive in the tournament and add to his national-record tally for his country of 35.
"We are in the most uncomfortable position of all teams," Susic said. "If we lose, we can pack our bags and head home."
For that reason, Susic will stick to the approach that has served him so well in his 4 1/2 years as Bosnia-Herzegovina coach — attack, attack, attack. And that will likely mean a recall to the starting team for Vedad Ibisevic, who scored the team's goal against Argentina after coming on as substitute.
Between them, Dzeko and Ibisevic netted 18 of the team's 30 goals in qualifying.
"We are a team that cherishes attacking football and wants to defeat any team at any moment," Susic said. "We are playing to win. The game will be an open match, plenty of chances — maybe even goals galore."