The erstwhile Yugoslavia, which was a decent footballing nation, was broken up into many parts in the 1990’s. Today these countries have carved their own identities in world football.
Croatia – They have missed only one World Cup and one European Championships since they burst on the scene in 1993. Semi-finalists in the 1998 WC and 2008 EC. Currently ranked 8th and have been as high as 3rd in the FIFA rankings. Have a population of 4 million.
Serbia – They have been regulars in the WC, missing out only in 2002. Currently ranked 20th and have been as high as 8th in the FIFA rankings. Have a population of 7 million. Have topped their group ahead of France for 2010 WC qualifying.
Slovenia – They have qualified for the 2000 EC and 2002 WC. They beat eventual winners Italy in 2006 World cup qualification. Currently ranked 49th and have been as high as 25th in the FIFA rankings. Have a population of 2 million. Have finished ahead of the Czech Republic and qualified for a play-off spot for 2010 World Cup.
Bosnia – They have never qualified for a major event but have come very close. Currently ranked 42nd and have been as high as 25th in the FIFA rankings. Have a population of 4 million. Have finished ahead of Turkey and Belgium and qualified for a playoff spot for the 2010 world Cup.
Four quality football sides. Two of which have been in the top 10 and the other two in the top 25 of World football at different times. Out of a total population of 17 million.
Among the so called leading football nations
England has a population of 61 million
Brazil has a population of 191 million
Germany has a population of 83 million
Argentina has a population of 43 million
Spain has a population of 41 million
Italy has a population of 58 million
Russia has a population of 141 million
Holland is one country which compares with a population of 16 million.
All of them have, at different times, struggled to qualify for major tournaments.
Would they have the depth to put together 4 squads or more, with each squad capable of making it to the final round of the World Cup or the European Championships? The squads should be 22 strong each.
I seriously doubt it, save for Brazil and Argentina, but given their population they should be fielding 45 and 10 such teams respectively. And that is impossible for them.
What does that say about the strength and depth of football in the former Yugoslavia?