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Super Moderator⭐
Staff member
Aug 13, 2008

Manager: Matjaz Kek
Captain: Robert Koren
FIFA Ranking: 23
Group C

Background: Slovenia's only previous World Cup campaign, in 2002, turned into shambles after their opening game saw them defeated by Spain 3-1, resulting in star player, Zlatko Zahovic, and then manager, Srecko Katanec, clashing, which led to the Benfica striker being sent home immediately. His remaining team mates continued to disappoint as they suffered yet another 3-1 defeat, this time at the hands of Paraguay, and a 1-0 defeat to this year's hosts, South Africa, and will be looking for their first World Cup point this year.

Qualification: The smallest nation to ever qualify for two World Cup finals, currently in their highest ever FIFA ranking, had a relatively easy qualifying group involving Slovakia, the
Czech Republic, Northern Ireland, Poland and San Marino. The Slovenians did well to qualify for a play-off ins second positon thanks to wins against San Marino twice, Northern Ireland, Poland and against first placed Slovakia twice. They then placed Russia in a play-off and were disappointed after a 2-1 defeat in Moscow cut their chances of reaching South Africa but the Slovenians played better on home turf, Zlatko Dedic scoring to give the home side a 1-0 victory and qualification to this summer's final on away goals.

The Team
Strengths: A solid defence, which was the second best in World Cup qualifying, only due to the fact that they played two more qualifying games in the play-offs than Holland, who boast the best defence in qualification. Only four goals were conceded in ten games before the play-offs and they had an average of only one goal conceded every other game. This defence is primarily down to the tactical organisation of manager, Matjaz Kek.
Weaknesses: The Slovenians lack creativity in strength in depth in their squad. Rene Krhin, a 19 year old currently plying his trade at Inter Milan, is their most creative player but has nowhere near the experience needed to produce on the World Cup stage and they therefore struggle to create chances. The Slovenians also lack cover in midfield, where only five players called up in the last year have got over fifteen caps for the national side.
The Manager: Initially unpopular, Matjasz Kek managed Slovenian side Maribor to the title and many put this down to the club's finances and were angry when he was named national boss in 2002. Many called him "Kekic", slang for 'fool', from an old Slovenian film, but many have since realised that "Kekic" actually turns out to be the hero as he has for the Slovenian side. Only gained popularity after World Cup qualification but Kek is a charismatic manager who knows what he wants from his players.

Star Men: Robert Koren (West Brom)
Koren was a surprise appointment as captain at the start of the qualifying campaign but has since developed and has proved to be a natural captain for the national team. The West Brom star now bosses the midfield for club and country and is a clever holding midfielder who never gives up iin a game situation and is likely to make his 50th cap at this summer's tournament as he gains experience, developing his influence on the side and his skills as a captain.
Milivoje Novakovic (Koln)
Novakovic is Slovenia's most talented goalscorers and has scored 14 for his country to date; three of which came in one go as he scored his first, second and then third international goals in one game in a friendly against Trinidad & Tobago in 2006. Just two more international goals will put him second on Slovenia's all time goalscoring list despite being a late bloomer, as he had to start his career in the lower leagues in Austria and Bulgaria before rising to fame in Slovenia, where he is now their main attacking threat.

manor15's Prediction
Group Stages. Slovenia will be hard to beat with such a good defensive record, but they lack the scoring ability and creativity that will be needed to help them beat the USA and England, although they may manage a good start against Algeria, where they will be looking to earn their first World Cup point. The Slovenians have also lacked a real test in a competitive game after having been drawn in a weak qualification group and then struggling against Russia in the play-offs and may need a good few warm-up games before the World Cup if they are to stand any chance of making it out of Group C successfully.