Petrović's coaching doctorate in Mostar

Zrinjski with the Montenegrin coach won the Cup of Bosnia and Herzegovina by tying 15 games without defeat in both competitions and stringing together 11 victories: I have worked in many clubs, but I have never had such a group of guys - says Željko Petrović

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A great series of victories crowned with a trophy in the Cup: Željko Petrović celebrates with the players of Zrinjski, Photo: HNK Zrinjski
A great series of victories crowned with a trophy in the Cup: Željko Petrović celebrates with the players of Zrinjski, Photo: HNK Zrinjski
Disclaimer: The translations are mostly done through AI translator and might not be 100% accurate.

Zrinjski with Željko Petrović on the bench won the Cup of Bosnia and Herzegovina, and the famous Sarajevo sports journalist Sinan Sinanović noted:

"Petrović did not manage Zrinjski for the whole season, but he showed that he is the best coach in the Premier League. He also presented himself as a gentleman, both in his dealings with the media and his colleagues and rivals... Zrinjski absolutely deserved the Cup".

These words, from a credible address, describe well enough what kind of mark the Montenegrin coach left in just four months on the Zrinjski bench and in Bosnian-Herzegovinian football.

Petrović came in the middle of the season, when the team from Mostar was seven points behind Borce from Banja Luka - the championship race of Maltena was already over then, in the BiH league it is usually an unattainable advantage, Petrović eventually reduced the difference to five, but also finished the season with style - with 15 consecutive matches without defeat, 11 consecutive victories and a cup in the Cup.

Petrović achieved three victories with Zrinjski in four matches against Borec, including two in the Cup final - 1:0 each in Mostar and Banja Luka for a big celebration in the town on the Neretva.

- The impressions are phenomenal, it's unbelievable what the boys endured. It's not easy to play under pressure to win every match. They beat Borac three times in a row, they made a series of victories that is currently the second in Europe, they crowned everything by winning the Cup. I have worked in many clubs, but in my coaching career I have not yet come across such a group of guys - true professionals, dedicated to the club and their duties. During all this time, there was not even the slightest incident, it is a pleasure to train such players. I am really proud of them - says Petrović for "Vijesti".

Petrovicphoto: HNK Zrinjski

Playing from the start without three of the best footballers, one each in all lines of the team - the injured captain, the best scorer and legend of the club, Nemanja Bilbija, the former Croatian national team player, defender Filip Bradarić (entered at the very finish) and talented midfielder Silvij Ilinković, Zrinjski is without big problems in Banja Luka, saved the victory from the first match. In the end, he came to one more - to confirm that he plays the best football in BiH, even though Borac is the champion, having reached the throne with the abundant help of the judges, which the media in BiH have been buzzing about in recent days.

Petrović did not want to talk about it. For the title of Fighter, in a gentlemanly manner, just as his Bosnian colleague described him at the beginning of the text, he says that it is well-deserved, but he also notes that he is especially glad that he lifted the cup winner's trophy in Banja Luka.

In the fall, Zrinjski played in the group stage of the Conference League, had an unforgettable turnaround against AZ Alkmaar (from 0:3 to 4:3), an equally unforgettable draw with Aston Villa (1:1), and a team that was tired and drained from playing on three fronts , which fell behind in the championship in the middle of the season, Petrović managed to lift it to the finish line after his appointment in January.

- I have to admit that I am surprised how the team in a very short time accepted a drastic change in the style of play and a completely new way of working. The adaptation of the players to the new coach, me to the new environment lasted only four or five rounds in the championship, and then the streak that is still going on started. The players immediately realized that only by nurturing the game and offensive football can we do something long-term. There were, of course, periods when we defended ourselves, but not because it was our decision, but because our opponents once forced us to do so. That's how it is in football. We will continue to cultivate and develop the same style of play - offensive, and that's why I believe that the best things are yet to come - points out Petrović.

Zrinjski starts from the 2nd round of qualification for the League of Conferences, will be seeded in the draw of the second round, and will try to repeat last year's success, when they reached the group stage, achieving the greatest success of the clubs in Bosnia and Herzegovina. However, it will be more difficult than last year.

- Last year, Zrinjski started as a champion and when it was relegated to the Conference League, it was seeded in the play-off round, which will not be the case now because if we reach that level, the rival will be someone who will be eliminated from the Champions League qualification. But we will try - points out the former coach of Boavista, RKC Valvajka, Urave Reds, Den Haag, William II, Iraq national team, former assistant of Rudo Gullit in Feyenoord, Martin Jol in Hamburg, Guus Hiddink in Angers, Avram Grant in West Ham, Dick Advokat in the national team Serbia, Sunderland, Utrecht, Patrik Kluivert in Adana...

Petrović points out that Zrinjski is the club he would recommend to every coach.

- Everything is gentlemanly and on a level - from the working conditions to the people who work here. Of course, great fans too. I would describe Zrinjski as a club made up of a small group of people who know how to do their job, know what their job is and don't mess around where they don't belong. And that's why everything works as it should. This is a club that won 11 trophies in Bosnia and Herzegovina, played in the group stage of the UEFA competition, which speaks volumes.

Petrović, in the end, states that he is especially glad that his work in Zrinjsko is followed in Montenegro.

- When we won the Cup, I received over 100 messages from Montenegro, which particularly touched me, and I thank everyone for that. Many came to watch Zrinjski, I hope there will be more reasons for that.

The league in Bosnia and Herzegovina will only progress

Describing club football in Bosnia and Herzegovina, what he saw and experienced in the previous four months, Željko Petrović says:

- From next season, VAR technology will be introduced, and the league will be shortened from 12 to 10 clubs, which will be a complete hit. Soon, all first league players will have hybrid pitches and floodlights, which will affect the playing conditions, which will be excellent wherever you go - Petrović said.

- I think that this will correct many shortcomings. However, this is a league with several giants from the former Yugoslavia, from Željeznicar, Sarajevo, via Velež, Borca from Banja Luka, and now Zrinjsko. There's a lot of talent. Many teams play defensively, I hope that will also change, but I understand those coaches, who are struggling, "pulling", because here in the Balkans you experience two defeats and you are no longer on the bench. It is easy for us, who have worked in Europe, to be smart. I think, however, that football in BiH will get better and better - concluded Petrović.

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