BRASILIA, Brazil (AP) — Ultimately sunk by a moment of magic from Lionel Messi, the Bosnia-Herzegovina squad emerged with plenty of credit — but no points — from its World Cup debut against Argentina.
Thankfully for them, it should get easier in Group F.
Nigeria may be the African champion but the team won't have a player anywhere near the standard of Messi when it takes on Bosnia on Saturday in what is a pivotal match in the likely tussle for second place in the group.
Nigeria was held to a 0-0 draw by Iran in its opening game, so qualification for the knockout stage is wide open in the group. And given how they troubled Argentina for much of the 2-1 defeat in Rio de Janeiro, the Bosnians are still being given a strong chance to advance.
"We haven't shown everything we are capable of yet," Bosnia-Herzegovina coach Safet Susic said. "I hope that Argentina will win their other two games, because if they do then the second spot will be between Iran, Nigeria and Bosnia . I am convinced that we still have everything to play for."
A country ravaged by war two decades ago, Bosnia-Herzegovina is proud just to be on world football's biggest stage for the first time, but it is more than simply a party in Brazil for the players.
They shackled Argentina well in the first half at the Maracana and only slipping off the pace in the second half after a change in tactics by their opponents that gave Messi more freedom.
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