ST. LOUIS (AP) — Bosnia-Herzogovina made its second appearance in St. Louis in six months. This time, it gave its large, raucous local fan base plenty to cheer about.
Edin Dzeko scored both goals in a 2-1 victory over Ivory Coast on Friday night in the run-up to the country’s first World Cup appearance.
“We knew they were going to be a powerful team with good pace and they showed that,” goalkeeper Asmir Begovic said. “It was a good test for us to play against a good team and we enjoyed it.”
It’s estimated more than 30,000 Bosnians relocated to St. Louis from the former war-torn Yugoslavia, and the games have provided an opportunity to display national pride. Argentina shut out the national team 2-0 in November across downtown at Busch Stadium.
“It was the engagement, I’m happy with the way they were involved in the game,” coach Safet Susic said through an interpreter. “The last time they left disappointed, not in the result, in the way they played.”
Long-time Ivory Coast standout Didier Drogba scored on a free kick in the 91st minute. The 36-year-old Drogba did not start but had another good scoring chance after entering in the second half.
“The coach needs to see everyone before he makes his decisions,” Drogba said. “I feel good. I was working out, I was injured a few weeks ago and I worked hard to come back to fitness. I’m pretty happy with what I’m doing at the moment.”
Drogba was almost apologetic about getting the free kick, said it was “not a good reason.”
The attendance was 14,101, less than half the turnout for the Argentina match and more than 50,000 shy of capacity at the Edward Jones Dome while the Cardinals-Giants game was sold out. Virtually all of the fans were near field level and Bosnian supporters concentrated behind the net defended by team in the first half did their best to make up for the low numbers, chanting and singing songs to an incessant drum beat.
Fans hurled numerous smoke bombs and some flares, too, in the vicinity of Ivory Coast goalkeeper Sylvain Gbouhouo in the second half. Gbouhouo tossed them aside when he had the chance while clouds accompanied by an acrid odor hung over the pitch.
“It is something which is normal for us, for our supporters,” Susic said. “We have had more.”
A grass field at the dome, where the Rams play on field turf, was installed earlier in the week for the game. Crews began digging it out a little more than an hour after the game ended.
Dzeko, a striker for Manchester City and Bosnia’s top offensive threat, scored 10 of the country’s 30 goals in World Cup qualifying.
Dzeko had an empty net in the 17th minute after an Ivory Coast defender blocked a shot by Zvjezdan Misimovic. He corralled a hard pass from Miralem Pjanic in the 53rd minute and scored just inside the left post.
Bosnian forward Vedad Ibisevic, who played at Saint Louis University, was a reserve and entered in the 60th minute. Susic said Ibisevic didn’t start because he didn’t want two offensive players at forward.
Next week, Bosnia plays Mexico in Chicago and Ivory Coast plays El Salvador in Frisco, Texas.
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