The Bosnian-Herzegovinian Premier League resumes this weekend after its winter break with champions FK Željezničar and FK Sarajevo expected to battle it out alone for the title.
Željezničar, who restart their campaign at home to third-bottom NK Travnik, are two points clear of their city rivals, despite losing 1-0 in the 100th edition of the eternal derby in November – one of two defeats they suffered in the first half of the season.
Indeed, the upper echelons of the table are dominated by capital clubs, with FK Olimpik Sarajevo and FK Slavija Sarajevo making up the top four, albeit seven points off second spot. They are among a clutch of teams, including 2011 title winners FK Borac Banja Luka, striving for a place in European competition next term.
Sarajevo lost ground when they were beaten 2-1 by FK Radnik Bijeljina in their last league outing, yet coach Dragan Jović is of the opinion that all will not be settled until the final day, 1 June. "Željezničar are the favourites but my ambition is still to win the championship," he said. "The title will be a dead heat until the final round of matches. We don't underestimate other teams but it will be difficult for them to join the fight."
Željezničar coach Amar Osim, the most successful trainer in Bosnia and Herzegovina, is anticipating an "uncertain struggle" but made a fairly safe prediction when he said: "The title will remain in Sarajevo." Osim will have one eye on next week's draw for the Bosnian Cup semi-finals, where his holders will face NK Široki Brijeg, HŠK Zrinjski or second-tier FK Sloga Doboj on 13 March and 4 April.
At the other end of the standings, the game seems up for NK Gradina, even at the halfway stage, the stragglers having amassed just three points in the first 15 matches. NK GOŠK Gabela, Travnik, NK Zvijezda, FK Velež and Radnik Bijeljina are scrambling to avoid the second relegation berth.
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