It was as if the entire city held its breath at the 92nd minute, when the Lithuanians lined up for the free kick.
A few thousand Bosnia and Herzegovina fans had managed to travel to Lithuania for the match. The rest watched the match in town squares where big screens were put up, as well as sitting in cafes and pubs.
That is, if walking up and down the pub while ranting frantically can be called “sitting“. And Sarajevo was dead silent at the moment the Lithuanian shot for the goal.
He shoots, the ball flies over the wall. It takes ages to get to the goal.
Bosnian goalkeeper, Asmir Begovic, is there, he grabs the ball. We’re home free. The fat lady sings. It’s over. We’ve won. We’re going to Brazil.
People were still watching TV. With no expression on my face, I was still trying to understand what had just happened.
Then the explosions started. But this time, it wasn’t the sound of grenades hitting the pavement. The smoke that covered the streets was not from debris after the shelling.
This time, the explosions and the smoke came from dozens of flares, fireworks and firecrackers exploding everywhere.
People started flocking to the streets. All hell broke loose – it was mesmerising.
Hundreds and thousands of happy, smiling people walked down the streets, singing and waving their flags.
Genuine happiness is a rarity in Sarajevo, and this game, this achievement, has brought true happiness to the nation, thirsty for any kind of success.
People are eager to see any news other than failure and bickering.
They gathered in front of Sarajevo’s Catholic cathedral, where they waved flags and sang songs.
“Bosnia covered in petals“ was echoing through the streets. In football terms, it’s something of a Bosnian version of “You’ll never walk alone”.
By the time the players flew back to Sarajevo, practically the entire city was in the streets. The city’s very centre, Titova street, was filled to the point where you couldn’t throw a toothpick and expect it to fall on the ground.
It was reported that thousands of fans gathered at the airport to greet the players.
Media around the world reported on Bosnians, that “went bonkers” after the game.
CNN’s Christiane Amanpour, who had reported on the war in Bosnia, sent her congratulations, summing up how important this victory is.
“Once I stood in soccer field-turned-graveyard in Sarajevo. Now free Bosnia qualifies for World Cup for the first time. Congratulations!!” said Amanpour.
Celebrations lasted all night long, until the very last atom of strength was sung out, and the rain had washed all evidence of last night’s insanity.
Still, today, you can see the traces of it, on the faces of people, who after a sleepless night, went about their daily jobs, early in the morning.
Their eyes might have dark circles around them, but their frown, so common among people of Sarajevo, has lifted, at least for a day.
Should people start worrying about what might happen if Bosnia and Herzegovina wins this World Cup?