Partizan's head coach Savo Milosevic gestures during the Europa League...

Partizan's head coach Savo Milosevic gestures during the Europa League group L soccer match between Manchester United and FK Partizan at Old Trafford Stadium in Manchester, England, on Nov. 7, 2019. There was a hat trick of European Championship qualifications this week for soccer teams from the former Yugoslavia. Now Bosnia-Herzegovina aims to make it a record four in Germany next year. Serbia, Slovenia and Croatia all qualified between Sunday and Tuesday. The sense of history was appreciated Thursday by Bosnia’s coach Savo Milošević. Credit: AP/Dave Thompson

NYON, Switzerland — After a hat trick of European Championship qualifications this week for soccer teams from the former Yugoslavia, Bosnia-Herzegovina aims to make it a record four at the tournament next year.

The sense of history was appreciated Thursday by Bosnia’s coach Savo Milošević, the former Aston Villa forward who represented Serbia – under three different team names in a 15-year international career – and also has been an assistant coach of Montenegro.

Serbia advanced to Euro 2024 on Sunday from its qualifying group. Slovenia made it on Monday. Croatia followed on Tuesday.

“It’s incredible actually,” Milošević said at UEFA headquarters, after Bosnia was paired with Ukraine in the playoff semifinals in March. The winner will host Israel or Iceland five days later with a place at Euro 2024 in Germany at stake.

“Already three teams from ex-Yugoslavia have qualified,” Milošević told The Associated Press. “Hopefully we will join them. It’s something almost impossible to imagine before this.”

Only Croatia and North Macedonia of seven UEFA member federations who were part of the former Yugoslavia qualified for Euro 2020. At the first 24-team edition in 2016, it was just Croatia playing in France.

At Euro 2000, Milošević was the five-goal tournament joint top scorer playing for the FR Yugoslavia, which was the combined Serbia and Montenegro team. Slovenia also qualified then for its major tournament debut.

Yugoslavia's Savo Milosevic celebrates his goal against Spain during a...

Yugoslavia's Savo Milosevic celebrates his goal against Spain during a Group C match of the EURO 2000 soccer championships between Yugoslavia and Spain at the Jan Breydel Stadium in Bruges on June 21, 2000. There was a hat trick of European Championship qualifications this week for soccer teams from the former Yugoslavia. Now Bosnia-Herzegovina aims to make it a record four in Germany next year. Serbia, Slovenia and Croatia all qualified between Sunday and Tuesday. The sense of history was appreciated Thursday by Bosnia’s coach Savo Milošević. Credit: AP/MICHAEL PROBST

The unified Yugoslavia team played at the 1990 World Cup and then was famously excluded from Euro 1992 weeks before the start because of United Nations sanctions when the region fell into a devastating war. With Yugoslavia out, Denmark got a late call and stunningly went on to win the title.

A revival on the field for soccer in the Balkans comes as Euro 2024 organizer UEFA is led by officials from the region.

UEFA president Aleksander Čeferin is a lawyer from Slovenia, its chief of football Zvonimir Boban played in the standout Croatia team of the 1990s, and the senior executive liaising with 55 member federations is from Serbia, Zoran Laković.

Bosnian media has reported Čeferin as saying Sunday, when attending the Serbia-Bulgaria game, that he would “certainly like” as many teams from the region to qualify.

Milošević acknowledged Thursday “it’s not going to be easy” and not just because it first faces a Ukraine team he believes is the best among the 12 teams in the qualifying playoffs.

He started in the Bosnia job just two months ago as the team’s third coach this year. His predecessor, Meho Kodro, lasted for just a few weeks and only two games.

Still, Bosnia was assured of a playoffs place because of its Nations League results in 2022 and that bought time for Milošević to take stock.

“I tried to use these last three games to see what we have, what we basically can count on,” he said. “I didn’t look for the results.”

Those results included two heavy losses: 5-0 at home to Portugal and 4-1 at Luxembourg, which is in a separate Euro 2024 playoffs bracket.

The best-known Bosnian players are still Edin Džeko, who started for Inter Milan in the Champions League final six months ago, and Miralem Pjanić. They combine for 70 years in age and close to 250 national-team games.

“There is always quality in Bosnian football, genetically kids are born there with quality and talent,” said Milošević, who also was born there. “It’s a historical thing.”

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