SARAJEVO - National pride and raucous celebrations swept across Bosnia into the early hours of Sunday after a 4-2 World Cup qualifying win in Belgium left the Balkan country on course to reach the 2010 finals in South Africa. Thousands of fans, crammed in front of video screens in Sarajevo and other cities, were in jubilant mood after the Bosnians stunned the home side on Saturday to move into second position in Group Five, six points behind leaders Spain. They sported the country's flags and set off fireworks as a seemingly endless motorcade paraded through central Sarajevo. "I loved being in this crowd, we cheered on the lads together from the bottom of our lungs and we are now full of hope of making a dream come true," said Besim Mehmedic, a senior government official. "I am also very proud that it was an incident-free celerbation, the fans behaved with a lot of dignity." The Bosnians, bidding to reach their first major tournament as an independent nation, are at home to Belgium in the cauldron of Zenica's Bilino Polje stadium on Wednesday. Their Croatian coach Miroslav Blazic struck a note of caution ahead of the return fixture. "Our home match against the Belgians will be much tougher than this one because there will not be an element of surprise this time," he told Bosnian media after the match. "Fortunately, I am very well aware of that and I will not allow any complacency or euphoria to creep into the team." He also warned Bosnia's fans to behave after they launched dozens of flares on to the pitch in Genk in the second half, forcing a delay after the referee ordered the players into the dressing rooms. "I would be a lot happier if they expressed their support like they did in the remainder of the match, we don't want any more interruptions like that."
29 March 2009
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