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Slovenia national Football team profile

Slovenia national football team

A nation of just two million people, Slovenia have already punched above their weight to secure a place at this FIFA World Cup™. When one considers that they knocked out Poland, Czech Republic and, finally, Russia – population 142 million – to take their place in South Africa, the achievement becomes near-miraculous. Yet 2010 is, in fact, this fledgling football nation’s second appearance on the game’s biggest stage, and they are determined to continue defying the odds when they square up to the world’s best.

The road to South Africa


When the Preliminary Draw was made, most observers envisaged Group 3 being dominated by Czech Republic and Poland, two teams who had successfully qualified for both Germany 2006 and UEFA EURO 2008. As it was, the anticipated favourites melted into the background as the section developed into an enthralling two-way battle between Slovenia and Slovakia.

The Slovenians’ success was based on a defence that was arguably the meanest in the entire European Zone. True, the Netherlands just edged them in statistical terms, but Bert van Marwijck’s side also played two games fewer than a Slovenia team who conceded just four times in 10 group matches. Indeed, Matjaz Kek’s outsiders took their bid for top spot down to the final day, only to be denied when Slovakia – a team they had beaten home and away – somehow dug out a 1-0 win away to Poland.

Despite the Slovenians’ impressive efforts, it was clear that Russia could barely contain their glee being paired with them in play-offs, with Alexander Kerzhakov among those describing it as “a favourable draw” for Guus Hiddink’s team. How wrong they were. Everything looked to be adhering to the expected script when the Russians raced into a two-goal lead in Moscow, but their unheralded visitors refused to lie down and set up a thrilling return meeting when Nejc Pecnik fired home with just two minutes of the first leg remaining. The stage was set, and Slovenia rose to the occasion with a performance in Maribor worthy of any arena, one justly rewarded by a decisive Zlatko Dedic strike that secured one of the great qualifying upsets of recent years.

The star players of Slovenia
Household names are conspicuous by their absence in this Slovenia squad. Yet although his team’s success has been built on collective strength and spirit, Kek is not without talented individuals to call upon. Arguably the best known is Cologne striker Milivoje Novakovic, who scored five times during qualifying and, at 30, is approaching this FIFA World Cup at the peak of his powers. The Ljubljana-born striker describes himself as making up one third of Slovenia’s “backbone”, with goalkeeper Samir Handanovic and captain Robert Koren, a talented attacking midfielder, identified by Novakovic as comprising this key triumvirate.

The coach of Slovenia
A player renowned more for his leadership skills rather than any great natural talent, Matjaz Kek was already in his 30s by the time he won his one and only Slovenia cap in 1992. It was at Maribor, the club with which he won three successive titles in the twilight of his playing career, that Kek was given his first managerial post eight years later. After a moderately successful six-year stint, Kek moved on to Football Association of Slovenia in 2006, initially taking charge of the national U-15 and U-16 teams. By January 2007, however, he had been promoted to the position of senior coach, and has since gone on to exceed all expectations by leading his unfancied team back to the game’s greatest stage. As Kek himself said after seeing off the Russians: “Slovenia has realised a dream.”

 

Slovenia’s tournament will begin in Polokwane’s Peter Mokaba Stadium against Algeria on 13 June. They will then travel to the city of Johannesburg to play USA at Ellis Park Stadium on 18 June. Slovenia will then travel from Johannesburg to Nelson Mandela Bay/Port Elizabeth to face England in their final group match on 23 June.

Previous FIFA World Cups of Slovenia
Given that they only gained independence from Yugoslavia in 1991, Slovenia’s football history is shorter than the majority of their South Africa 2010 rivals. They can, however, reflect with pride on having qualified for the FIFA World Cup at just the second time of asking, when a team led by Srecko Katanec pipped the likes of Switzerland and, ironically, Yugoslavia to a place at Korea/Japan 2002. Sadly though, that debut tournament didn’t go as planned, with star player Zlatko Zahovic sent home after coming to blows with Katanec following the first of three straight losses during a disappointing group phase.

Slovenia National football team Squad List

Nr. Name Date of Birth Position Clubs Height
1 Samir HANDANOVIC 14/07/1984 GK Udinese (ITA) 193
2 Miso BRECKO 01/05/1984 DF FC Cologne (GER) 172
3 Elvedin DZINIC 25/08/1985 DF Maribor (SVN) 189
4 Marko SULER 09/03/1983 DF Gent (BEL) 187
5 Bostjan CESAR 09/07/1982 DF Grenoble (FRA) 190
6 Branko ILIC 06/02/1983 DF FC Moscow (RUS) 186
7 Nejc PECNIK 03/01/1986 FW Nacional Madeira (POR) 187
8 Robert KOREN 20/09/1980 MF West Bromwich Albion (ENG) 173
9 Zlatan LJUBIJANKIC 15/12/1983 FW Gent (BEL) 185
10 Valter BIRSA 07/08/1986 MF Auxerre (FRA) 180
11 Milivoje NOVAKOVIC 18/05/1979 FW FC Cologne (GER) 191
12 Jasmin HANDANOVIC 28/01/1978 GK Mantova (ITA) 197
13 Bojan JOKIC 17/05/1986 DF Chievo (ITA) 171
14 Zlatko DEDIC 05/10/1984 FW Bochum (GER) 172
15 Rene KRHIN 21/05/1990 MF Inter (ITA) 184
16 Aleksander SELIGA 01/02/1980 GK Sparta Rotterdam (NED) 187
17 Andraz KIRM 06/09/1984 MF Wisla Krakow (POL) 185
18 Aleksandar RADOSAVLJEVIC 25/04/1979 MF Larissa (GRE) 181
19 Suad FILEKOVIC 16/09/1978 DF Maribor (SVN) 190
20 Andrej KOMAC 04/12/1979 MF Maccabi Tel-Aviv (ISR) 170
21 Dalibor STEVANOVIC 27/09/1984 MF Vitesse Arnhem (NED) 183
22 Matej MAVRIC 29/01/1979 DF TuS Koblenz (GER) 186
23 Tim MATAVZ 13/01/1989 FW Groningen (NED) 190

Coach: Matjaz KEK (SVN)

One Response to "Slovenia national Football team profile"

  1. Pingback: who is your favorite soccer player thats playing in the world cup and why?World Cup Soccer Ball | World Cup Soccer Ball

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