Sarajevo FC during the period of 1975 - 1980
1975 - 1980
After almost a decade of average and below-average results, the team from Koševo obviously needed to freshen up. Management of the club tried to solve this by hiring a new coach Vukašin Višnjevac, a former player of Sarajevo FC who had turned to coaching after his playing career ended prematurely. In addition to the changes on the bench, there were no major changes in the squad. The club was abandoned mostly by players who were not in the foreground, and the only newcomer was Srebrenko Repčić, who came from Sloga from Doboj. In addition to Repčić, three players from the junior team were given the opportunity to play in the coming season - Nijaz Merdanović, Salko Nikšić and Abdulah Oruč, and on several occasion during season they were joined by the then-junior player Predrag Pašić. Together with Sulejman Demir who returned from the army and the best players from last season, Edhem šljivo and Safet Sušić, it was the team which was expected to finally play a season in which it would not fear for its survival in the league until the last round. First, they overran Vardar with 3-1, only to defeat OFK Belgrade at the same stadium just seven days later. The final score was 6-0, and captain Edhem Šljivo played one of the best games of his career, blasting three balls to the net of the guests from Belgrade. After two initial victories, Sarajevo FC recorded only three triumphs in the remaining 15 spring rounds, all three of them at Koševo and with minimum scores (2-1 against Olimpija, 1-0 against Rijeka and 3-2 against Radnički). Sarajevo FC had as many draws in matches played at Koševo. Games against Velež and Hajduk were goalless, while the city derby with Željezničar ended with 2-2. Višnjevac’s team continued its decline in the standings throughout the half-season, from the first place after the second round Sarajevo FC ended 13th at the end of autumn half-season.
Preparations for the spring half-season were conducted in Borike near Rogatica. Severe inflammation of the joints prevented Sušić from returning to the field. Repčić and Heto replaced Sušić as right wingers until the end of the season but this was not the only replacement in the team. In addition to Sušić, Višnjevac could not count on another standard first team player Zoran Lukić, who had to do his military service. Fahrija Dautbegović, a former goalkeeper for Dinamo and the Yugoslav national football team, came from Olimpija and immediately put on the number one jersey. Spring part of the season for Sarajevo FC opened with two matches, a draw against Vardar in Skopje and a defeat by OFK Belgrade at Karaburma. Alarms went off at Koševo and the players finally woke up and returned to the form after the start of the season. This was followed by a spectacular sequence of nine games, in which the bordeaux team suffered only one defeat at Kantrida in the 25th round, while the remaining eight games ended as five wins and three draws. In the 27th round, Vukašin Višnjevac’s team defeated Željeznicar at Grbavica, followed by Red Star in the following round at Koševo, propelling Sarajevo FC to the eighth place in the standings, so all fans of the Bordeaux club could finally heave a sigh of relief without having to worry about survival in the league.
However, the 1975/1976 season will not go down in history as one in the series of not-so-successful seasons owing to the junior team from Koševo. The junior team of Sarajevo FC achieved its biggest success in the former Yugoslavia by winning the Yugoslav Youth Cup. In the final game played in Belgrade on May 25th 1976, young players from Koševo won 3-1 against their peers from Vardar, bringing Sarajevo FC its most important youth trophy yet.
Sarajevo FC opened new season as the youngest team in the Championship, since the first team was joined by no less than five youngsters, Pašić, Vidaković, Milak, Bešović and Hodžić, as well as former junior player Hadžibegić. Sarajevo FC started the championship weakened by the absence of its two most important players, Safet Sušić, who was still recovering from the disease and Edhem Šljivo who went to Kruševac to do his military service, while Sulejman Demir and Ranko Petković had left the team. The weakened team led by Vukašin Višnjevac scored only two points in the first four rounds after draws with OFK Belgrade at Grbavica and Olimpija in Ljubljana and defeats by Budućnost from Podgorica and Radnički from Niš. The fifth involved the city derby with Željezničar. The blue ones from Grbavica had an identical start as Sarajevo FC, with two draws and two defeats keeping them stuck at the bottom of the table. Therefore, the duel of the two old rivals and former champions, attracted more attention than usual.
After a convincing triumph in the city derby, Sarajevo FC remained undefeated in the next two games, scoring two draws, first with Čelik at Bilino Polje followed by the home game against Dinamo, although Sarajevo FC enjoyed a 2-1 advantage until the 85th minute and the penalty kick converted into a goal by Dinamo’s Jovičević. A series of games without defeat continued in the Cup match, and Red Star played at Koševo in 1/16 finals. By the end of the half-season, Sarajevo FC offered mixed performance, with three wins and two draws at Koševo, while all four away matches ended in defeats for the bordeaux team which ended up 14th in the standings, with the same number of points at the end of the autumn season. Before the holiday break, however, Sarajevo FC played two matches in the most popular domestic competition. Partizan came to Koševo and returned home with three goals in its net, confirming its standing among the top eight teams in the Cup. In the quarterfinals, Sarajevo FC tested its mettle in a game against Budućnost from Titograd, and, after 120 minutes of exciting playing, it ended with a home win of 3-2. For Sarajevo FC, it meant fighting on only one front, that of the Championship, in order to remain in the company of the best.
Sarajevo FC opened spring half-season by defeat at Karaburma, followed by three games without defeat. Olimpija (2-0) and Radnički (1-0) were defeated at Koševo and in between these two games one point was won in Titograd with 1-1 score. In the next six games, there were only two away draws against Dinamo and Hajduk, while in the four remaining games, the bordeaux team footballers left the field with their heads bowed. In just three days, Sušić’s goals brought four valuable points to his team. First, he scored the only goal of the minimal victory game Sarajevo FC played with Rijeka, as well as two goals in the remaining match with Vojvodina, ending in 2-0 victory. With these two wins, Sarajevo FC jumped to the thirteenth place in the standings.
The summer of 1977 brought several changes among the players and the coaching staff. After two seasons on the bench of Sarajevo FC, Vukašin Višnjevac resigned from his coaching post and went to Velež, while his first assistant Fuad Muzurović sat in his place. The only change in the squad had to do with the goalkeeper. Both first goalkeepers left the club. Dautbegović went to Iskra from Bugojno, while Ekmečić went abroad, namely in Austria. They were replaced by two novice players, Radoslav Bebić from Proleter and Miloš Đurkovic from Glasinac. Young team, which was more experienced after a year, was joined by another junior player, Mehmed Janjoš, while captain Edhem Šljivo returned from the army. In the fourth round, former coach of Sarajevo FC, Višnjevac, showed up at Koševo, leading his new team Velež which returned home from the biggest stadium in Bosnia and Herzegovina with 4 conceded goals. Brilliant victory of 4-2 was achieved with the help of two goals scored by Savić, and two goals by Sušić and Šljivo respectfully. It was an indication of a great series of results, i.e. four successive victories in the Championship and the Cup. After Velež, there came 2-0 victory against Čelik at Bilino Polje, and the scorer of both goals was Repčić. In the next seven days, Srebrenko Repčić continued to score goals, first in the Cup match against Budućnost, with Vidaković and Hodžic bringing 3-1 victory for Sarajevo FC, which was repeated with identical score four days later, at Koševo, against the same opponent.
By the end of the half-season, Sarajevo FC offered mixed performance, ending up tenth with 15 points in the standings at the end of the first part of the season. However, the autumn of 1977 was marked by Safet Sušić, who had his first two appearances in the uniform of the Yugoslav national team in October and November. In the first game played while wearing blue jersey, Sušić scored two goals against Hungarians and three against Romanians, leaving the whole country fascinated and drawing attention to the entire young team of Sarajevo FC, whom everyone predicted a bright future. The team was abandoned mostly by players who were no longer in the forefront, like Dupovac, Tešan, Lubura, Oruč, Bešović, Hamzić i Nikšić, while Agim Nikolić arrived from lower league club Vratnik. Preparations for the spring half-season were conducted on Jahorina and the coaching staff concluded that Sarajevo FC entered the second half of the season stronger and better prepared compared to the first one. In addition to Jahorina, Sarajevo FC team went on a mini tour to Syria at the end of January.
As the first spring game was played in December, the half-season was opened by an away game against Rijeka at Kantrida. The hosts had a two-goal advantage, but goals scored by Savić and Šljivo annulled it, so Sarajevo FC returned home with one point. Savić's goal announced the spring of brilliant performance, with 14 goals scored in 16 games, which, along with seven goals from the first part of the season made him the top scorer of the League. For the second time in its history and the first time since legendary Hase in 1963, Sarajevo FC had the top scorer of the League. Savić played brilliant half- season and his goals left the team at ease, since the club from Koševo stayed in the middle of the table without having to worry about survival. This smallish striker masterfully utilized the fact that he had Sušić and Šljivo of the Yugoslav national team behind his back, who tirelessly provided assists which he relentlessly turned into goals. He was especially impressive in the matches against OFK Belgrade and Osijek, in which he scored three goals, and in duels with Čelik and Trepča, in which he scored two goals. Five wins and five draws, along with six defeats in sixteen games during spring, left Sarajevo FC at ninth place, but also indicated that the young team from Koševo was becoming more mature and ready for the greatest achievements.
The first round of the new season brought the city derby with Željezničar. It was the first derby for Sarajevo FC after a break of a year and a half, since Željezničar spent the last season in the Second League. 35,000 people gathered at Koševo on that day, eager to see the duel of two city rivals and the fans of the bordeaux team returned home much happier. Sarajevo FC played a great game, and goals scored by the forward duo Pašić - Sušić spelled an end for neighbors from Grbavica, bringing victory of 2-0. Second round and a guest appearance of Dinamo brought the first defeat of the season, and the additional problem was red card for Safet Sušić, who had to miss the third-round match against Radnički from Niš. Even without Sušić, Sarajevo FC scored a 2-1 victory and played a very good match in Banja Luka in the next round, bringing it much closer to victory. Victory at home and an away defeat was pretty much the pattern of Sarajevo FC performance in the next few rounds, followed by a brilliant string of five games without defeat from 12th to 16th round. Thanks to Sušić’s genius Partizan suffered a 2-1 defeat at Kosevo and the scorer of both goals was the player in bordeaux jersey number seven. Seven days later, Red Star was another Belgrade team which was forced to lay down its arms. Sarajevo FC returned from Marakana with a full score, due to a minimum victory achieved owing to Mehmed Janjoš’s goal in the 65th minute of the match. This was followed by two more home wins against Budućnost and Olmpija at Koševo and an away draw in Kruševac between these two games. This brilliant performance and nine points propelled Sarajevo FC to the top of the table, so team from Koševo ended up second in the standings after the last autumn, with just one point behind leading Dinamo. Sarajevo FC ended fifth after the autumn part of the season.
Spring half-season for the Bordeaux team did not start according to expectations held by coach Muzurović and most fans of Sarajevo FC. Defeats at Grbavica and Čair and the one at the hands of Dinamo at Koševo saw Sarajevo FC dropping to the seventh place in the standings. When it seemed that all chances of qualifying for the UEFA Cup were lost, the bordeaux team had a new series of five matches without defeat, managing to score five wins this time. On the wings of brilliant Sušić and Repčić, there came victory against Borac at Koševo (5-1), an away victory against Osijek (1-0), Velež (2-1), Vojvodina in Novi Sad (4-3) and Rijeka (3-1). This was followed by another, third string of five games without defeat. This time there were two draws, with Red Star and Partizan, and three wins, out of which the one achieved at the Podgorica City stadium in Gorica was of special significance.
Together with Red Star, Budućnost was a direct competitor to Sarajevo FC for the third place, but another fantastic performance of national team player Sušić brought much-needed points for Sarajevo FC. Pape scored hat-trick, his first in the bordeaux shirt, while Savic scored another one for a fantastic 4-1 score. In the next round, Sušić was also a scorer in the match against Napredak at Koševo. This time, he scored only one goal, alongside those scored by Avdić and Repčić for a 3-1 victory. So, the team from Koševo found itself in excellent position two rounds before the end, ending third with two point advantage over the fourth-ranked Red Star and having virtually everything in hand. However, Sarajevo FC failed in the most critical moment. First came an away defeat in Ljubljana. Olimpija was better and it celebrated a 3-1 victory, while Sarajevo FC suffered new defeat in the last round. In a match deciding on the new champion, Sarajevo FC faced Hajduk. Since the players from Split entered the last round with the same number of points as Dinamo, but with a much better goal difference, it was clear that they prefer only one result, a victory. With the copious help from referee Mađoski, Hajduk triumphed and won the champion title, and, apart from several ridiculous decisions of a trio of referees, the match was marked by incidents in the stand caused by the fans of the visiting team. Sarajevo FC thus ended fourth at the end, with just two points behind the third-ranked Red Star which qualified for the UEFA Cup. The first name of the season was definitely Safet Sušić, who, with 15 scored goals, was the best scorer of the team from Koševo and the third best scorer in the entire championship.
After the end of the season, Sarajevo FC went on a seven-day tour of Spain in late June. On this mini tour of the Iberian Peninsula, Sarajevo FC played three games with the Spanish major league teams, scoring two wins and one draw. The first of these was played against Almeria in the match with plenty of goals and the final score of 5-5. In addition to Almeria, Sarajevo FC played against Malaga (3-2 victory for Sarajevo FC) and Gijon (2-0), after which the bordeaux team returned to Yugoslavia. Fuad Muzurović received much praise in Spain and everyone was delighted by the Sarajevo FC performance, in particular the virtuosity of one man, Safet Sušić. It was the match against Almeria in which Sušić played one of his best games of his life. He scored three goals, and provided assistance to Hadžibegić and Hodžić with two more, playing with such an ease so it seemed that he could do whatever he wished that night. Due to Pape’s great performance in the duel with Almeria, 15,000 local fans applauded him for several minutes after the match. Upon return, the team started with the preparations for the new season. As the beginning of the season drew near, tensions slowly receded and Sarajevo FC turned its focus on upcoming games in the new championship, with only one goal of playing in the European competition.
For this purpose, two new players were recruited. Experienced player Slobodan Janjus became goalkeeper, joined by Husref Musemić, young main striker from Radnik from Bijeljina. In the first round Sarajevo FC played an away game in traditionally unpredictable Niš. Sarajevo FC had hitherto celebrated only once at Čair, and the tradition continued with this match as well, so the host team scored a minimal win. Nevertheless, initial impression was improved in the next two games, with a 3-0 victory against Vardar and 1-0 against Čelik in Zenica, and Sušić being the sole scorer. Fourth round brought a huge surprise, with Napredak from Kruševac facing the bordeaux team as an absolute favorite at Koševo. However, Muzurović’s players did not perform as expected, so the guests used this to their advantage and scored a 1-0 victory. After this unexpected defeat, Sarajevo FC started a series of seven consecutive matches without defeat. A draw at Kantrida, victory against Budućnost in Titograd and a draw with Partizan at Koševo were an excellent introduction to a string of four consecutive victories. Motivated Sušić was particularly brilliant in these matches. He scored two goals in 3-2 away victory against Osijek, followed by one goal alongside Avdić’s in the victory game against Sloboda at Koševo. He was also the scorer of one of the two goals in the match in Banja Luka, ending with a 2- 0 victory. The series ended with a minimal victory over Velež, which sent Sarajevo FC to the second place in the standings. This brilliant string was ended after the defeat by Olimpija in Ljubljana, followed by victories over Vojvodina and Red Star at Koševo, and a draw against Željezničar at Grbavica. The victory over Red Star propelled Sarajevo FC to the top of the table, just two rounds before the end of the autumn half-season. In the last two rounds, the team from Koševo achieved mixed results, with a defeat in Split, followed by the triumph against Dinamo at Koševo. Thanks to another superb performance by Safet Sušić Sarajevo FC managed to defeat guests from Zagreb. Goals scored by Vidović and Hadžibegić along with two goals by Sušić earned Sarajevo FC a victory of 4-2 and the title of the autumn champion of Yugoslavia. Sarajevo FC welcomed the winter break as the leader in the standings and a great result was achieved in the Cup, in which the bordeaux team’s victories over Rijeka and Radnički from Kragujevac qualified it for the quarterfinals of this biggest competition. Great results achieved in the autumn of 1979 provided the fans of the bordeaux team with the hope that the dream of repeating success of 1967 might come true and everyone wanted Sarajevo FC to become champion of Yugoslavia for the second time. Certainly, the biggest advantage of Sarajevo FC was splendid Sušić, whom all Yugoslav sport magazines named the best player of 1979, while he ranked at solid 15th place in the selection of the best European player.
As usual, the autumn champion gathered strength for the second half of the season and the battle for two trophies in the mountains around Sarajevo. Indeed, the second half of the season started like a dream, with a victory against Radnički from Niš as a runner-up in the standings. The score was 2-0, with goals scored by Nijaz Ferhatović and Sušić. Three days later, the competitions in the Cup of Yugoslavia continued, and Sarajevo FC faced Sloboda on its way to the semifinals. Goals scored by Sušić, Pašić and Hadžibegić allowed the bordeuax team to successfully overcome this obstacle and find itselef among the top four teams in this competition. After draw with Vardar in Skopje, Čelik played as the guest team at Kosevo. Match with team from Zenica started brilliantly, with Pašić scoring two goals in the first 12 minutes and securing a 2-0 for his team. Everything pointed to a new victory for staying at the top of the table. Yet, by the end of the first half, Čelik scored one goal as well as an equalizing goal in the 85th minute, returning from Koševo with one point. The point lost close to the end of the match obviously demoralized players, and after the match with Čelik, Sarajevo FC lost its leading position in the standings to Red Star, which kept it for the rest of the championship. After the next round, Zvezda already increased its advantage, since Sarajevo FC lost the second match with Napredak in this season. Yet, the team from Koševo did not give up the fight for the title, but Fuad Muzurovicć’s team first had to play very important semi-finals match of the Yugoslav Cup with Red Star at Koševo. After 120 minutes, neither team was able to score a goal, which was followed by penalty shootout. 40,000 Sarajevo FC fans placed their trust in their favorite players, who were expected to reach the finals, but two best players of Sarajevo FC, Sušić and Pašić failed to hit the net, i.e. young Red Star goalkeeper Ljukovčan defended their kicks, so his team celebrated a 4-1 victory after the penalty shootout and reached the Cup finals.
However, following a negative string of three consecutive defeats, first at the hands of Vojvodina in Novi Sad, followed by those against Željezničar at Koševo and Red Star at Marakana, Sarajevo FC was left without the title, while red-white team from Belgrade secured it mathematically two rounds before the end owing to their victory over Sarajevo FC, which lost its second place. In the last two rounds, however, victory against Hajduk and draw with Dinamo in Zagreb were sufficient for Sarajevo FC to return to the second place and secure the flattering title of the vice champion of Yugoslavia for season 1979/1980.