ST. LOUIS — Vedad Ibisevic had a shot to make Monday night’s friendly between Argentina and Bosnia-Herzegovina a match to remember.
With only the goalie to beat, the former All-American at Saint Louis University took a shot from less than 10 yards out but, alas, it went wide left. A goal by Ibisevic and the crowd of 30,397, the vast majority pulling for Bosnia-Herzegovina, would have been given its money’s worth before the match was 10 minutes old.
“I had a good chance,” Ibisevic said. “I wanted to shoot it left but at the last moment I decided to shoot it right. I thought I would hit the target anyway. I didn’t.”
Bosnia-Herzegovina had several other scoring opportunities but did not convert in what finished as a 2-0 loss to the world’s third-ranked team. Sergio Aguero, in his second match at Busch Stadium, scored both goals for Argentina, one in each half. Aguero played here in May when his Manchester City team beat Chelsea in front of 48,263.
“It was an honor to play on the same field as the World Series was played on this year,” said Aguero, who clearly has enjoyed his two matches here. After the match in May, he tweeted, “Overwhelmed by the enthusiasm and the huge amount of MCFC fans at the Busch Stadium. Thanks for all the support St Louis!”
Argentina was playing its second match in the past week without its greatest player, Lionel Messi, who is out with a hamstring injury. Argentina tied Ecuador 0-0 last week in New Jersey but Aguero made sure he wasn’t needed Monday night.
“He’s our greatest striker, one of the best in the world, playing on one of the best teams in the world,” Argentina coach Alejandro Sabella said. “We are lucky because he plays for us. We hope that he can keep with this level.”
Though the defeat dropped Bosnia-Herzegovina to 0-3 on U.S. turf, having the chance to see their national team proved a treat for thousands of St. Louis immigrants who once called Bosnia home. The match was the team’s first since clinching its first berth in the World Cup last month, when Ibisevic scored the only goal in a win over Lithuania.
Horns blared, flags waved and the Argentines were booed before every corner kick and after every foul. At one point in the second half, fireworks even erupted from the center field bleachers, where a sign “Hardcore Bosnians on tour” hung over the fence.
“It was a great game, great opponent,” said Ibisevic, whose parents still live in St. Louis. “We made these people happy, especially people that live here so far from Bosnia. They miss their homeland. With the success we have had (reaching the World Cup), they’re all excited. It was great to be back. It’s too bad that we didn’t win the game.
“I still think they had their fun.” You can follow Stan McNeal on Twitter at @stanmcneal or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.