Asmir: Blues a 'step up' from Pompey

GOALKEEPER Asmir Begovic feels he has come up in the world since his loan move from Portsmouth to Ipswich Town.Not only has he been playing regular first-team games to improve his chances of playing for Bosnia and Herzegovina in this weekend's World Cup qualifying play-off in Portugal (kick-off 7pm), he has also found a step-up in facilities.

Elvin King

GOALKEEPER Asmir Begovic feels he has come up in the world since his loan move from Portsmouth to Ipswich Town.

Not only has he been playing regular first-team games to improve his chances of playing for Bosnia and Herzegovina in this weekend's World Cup qualifying play-off in Portugal (kick-off 7pm), he has also found a step-up in facilities.

“What I have found here is better than at Portsmouth,” said the 22-year-old. “The facilities are excellent and without a shadow of a doubt, Ipswich are a Premier League club.”

And the Canadian-raised Begovic, who left his war-torn homeland as a young child, accepts he owes a debt to Town manager Roy Keane for giving him a chance to step out of the shadows behind Pompey No.1 David James.

“The manager's been really good to me and shown great faith. I want to repay him,” added Begovic, who played youth football internationally for Canada and is on an initial three-month loan at Portman Road.

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“The whole staff is very good and very organised, which is what I like.”

Begovic made his Bosnian debut last month, coming on as a stoppage-time substitute and he hardly had time to get positioned before the final whistle went.

“It was frustrating,” he recalled. “The ball would not go out of play, but when it did I got a touch although it was from a back pass.”

Begovic's chances of facing Portugal received a boost yesterday when first-choice goalkeeper Kenan Hasagic was ruled out of today's first leg.

Begovic said: “I believe that if you're good enough you're old enough, although the decision is out of my hands.

“If I play it will be great and the fact I played regularly for Ipswich will have helped, I am sure.

“We've played some good teams in our qualifying group, like Spain, Belgium and Turkey, and managed to get some good results, which gives us confidence.

“We can beat Portugal in both games, for sure.”

The second leg is due to take place in Bosnia on Wednesday.

Begovic is the only English-based player in the Bosnian squad for the two matches against Portugal, with the aggregate winners qualifying for next summer's World Cup finals in South Africa.