31 | 10 | 17
Opposition Manager - Northern Ireland vs Switzerland
SWITZERLAND: VLADIMIR PETKOVIC
Now 54, the Sarajevo-born coach is a former midfielder who started his career with FK Sarajevo, losing in the 1983 Yugoslavian Cup final but featuring twice as his team took the 1984/85 league title, the only major honour of his playing days.
Moving to Switzerland in 1987, he playing for second-tier Chur before moving up to the top flight with Sion in 1988/89. He also enjoyed spells in the second division with Martigny, Bellinzona and Locarno before retiring in 1999 at 36, after a season as player-coach at Bellinzona.
Petkovic’s managerial career began in earnest at Malcantone Agno, who he led to promotion from the third tier in 2002/03, before becoming the first coach of AC Lugano, successors of FC Lugano.
After rejoining Bellinzona in 2005, his team finished runners-up to Basel in the 2007/08 Swiss Cup final, but they bounced back two weeks later to win a relegation/promotion play-off against St Gallen and earn a Super League berth.
Petkovic took over at Young Boys in August 2008, guiding them to second-placed finishes in his first two campaigns as well the 2008/09 Swiss Cup final.
After short spells in charge of Turkey's Samsunspor and Switzerland’s Sion, he was named Lazio coach in June 2012 and won the Coppa Italia in his first term. He also steered the Rome-based giants to seventh position in Serie A.
Petkovic’s next big move was replacing Ottmar Hitzfeld as Switzerland manager, taking the reins after the 2014 World Cup in Brazil and overseeing qualification for Euro 2016, where they lost to Poland in the last 16.
Only a dramatic conclusion to World Cup qualifying last month prevented Petkovic reaching a second successive major tournament. After winning their opening nine Group B fixtures, defeat in the final match in Portugal saw the Euro 2016 champions pip the Swiss to top spot, thus setting up a nail-biting play-off showdown with Northern Ireland.