SARAJEVO (Reuters) - Bosnia striker Edin Dzeko will miss Sunday’s Euro 2016 qualifier away to Israel due to a calf injury and could be sidelined for up to three weeks, team doctor Reuf Karabeg said.
“It’s a very serious injury and requires the kind of treatment whose time-frame unfortunately rules out a quick return,” Karabeg told the Bosnian football federation website (www.nfsbih.ba) on Monday.
Dzeko said: “I am extremely disappointed with the news that I will miss this match but I have faith in my team mates and believe that they have it in them to get a result.”
Dzeko’s absence will be a bitter blow to injury-hit Bosnia’s hopes of getting their Group B campaign on track after taking only two points from the opening three games.
His strike partner Vedad Ibisevic was earlier ruled out as a long-term casualty while defender Avdija Vrsajevic and central midfielder Tino Sven Susic are also unlikely to recover in time for the clash in Haifa.
Dzeko limped off the pitch four minutes after coming on as a substitute in Manchester City’s 2-2 draw at Queens Park Rangers on Saturday and Bosnia coach Safet Susic said earlier on Monday his team had no chance of winning without their top scorer.
“If Dzeko can’t play we will be resigned to playing for a draw against Israel because we have no hope of winning without him,” Susic told Bosnia’s FENA news agency.
“If that turns out to be the case, we will have to mount a sustained challenge after the winter break and win five of the remaining six games if we are to reach the finals in France.”
The Bosnians, who made a group stage exit at the 2014 World Cup finals in June after reaching their first major tournament as an independent nation, drew against Wales and Belgium after suffering a shock home defeat by Cyprus in Euro 2016 qualifying.
The poor run has piled the pressure on 59-year old Susic, who has faced a barrage of criticism for his team selection and tactics during the World Cup and at the start of their European Championship qualifiers.
With both Dzeko and Ibisevic out, Susic will be forced to field a team with no natural strikers against Israel, meaning that wingers Edin Visca and Izet Hajrovic are likely to be deployed up front.
Writing by Zoran Milosavljevic in Belgrade; Editing by Rex Gowar