Slovenia finished 2nd in a group which comprised of teams such as Czech Republic, Slovakia and Poland, who have all played in major competitions before. To cap it all off they beat Russia on away goals in a play off to seal their qualification to South Africa. As we know Russia is a quality side and having beaten them, Slovenia could pose England massive problems in the summer.
However in early September of this year we played them in a quite tepid friendly at Wembley and came out 2-1 winners. This won’t, I believe have any relevance to the world cup tie between the two sides scheduled for the 23rd of June in Nelson Mandela Bay.
Slovenia’s Key Players
Their goalkeeper for this summer will be Udinese stalwart Samir Handanovic. For his national side he has made 37 appearances since his first in 2004. There has been recent speculation linking him with moves to Bayern Munich, Manchester United, AC Milan, CSKA Moscow and Tottenham. Now guess which one is the odd one out, out of that list! So evidentially he is high in demand and will be interesting to see how he performs against his possible future team-mates.
Now onto their defence, all of them will be unknown to all of us but they are all spread out across various European Countries. These teams include FC Köln from Germany, Sochaux, Gent from Belgium, Grenoble, TuS Koblenz from Germany and finally FC Moscow, So all in all fairly average teams to say the least however there is one player from their defence to look out for in my opinion, this is Bojan Jokic. The 23 year old left-back who appears for French outfit Sochaux has made 32 appearances for his country since 2006 and has remained their first-choice left-back ever since. Despite this he has only made 2 appearances for Sochaux this season and has only really been able to break a sweat playing for his country. He has plenty of potential and is someone to look out for beginning in June 2010.
Their midfield has plethora of experience and youth, the experience being in West Brom midfielder Robert Koren who is a regular fixture for the Baggies and his country. He has been and will be an integral part to his countries success. Onto the youth, Inter Milan 19 year-old midfielder Rene Krihin is one of the most promising players not just to come out of Slovenia but the world. He captained the under 19 Slovenia side in the European championship qualifying but however couldn’t play in the tournament due to his club commitments. Coincidentally he made his senior debut against England in September and has only made one appearance since. He is sure to be the wildcard in the Slovenian pack and is certainly one to look out for in the future.
The man given the task of leading their attack up front will be FC Köln front man Milivoje Novakovi?. Having scored 48 goals in 97 appearances for his club he is certainly prolific in the German 1st and 2nd divisions. At world cup standard though he may be found wanting, as for his country he has only scored 13 goals in 36 appearances which have included a hat-trick against Trinidad and Tobago, a brace against Bosnia and Herzegovina and his latest against the brilliant and world-class team which every single team fears playing in San Marino. Overall he shouldn’t pose the English defence too many problems.
With Slovenia having the odd world class player there it is more unknown than a BNP manifesto when it doesn’t consist of policies towards immigration to the extent they will perform well in this world cup or not. My prediction is that they will come 3rd in this group whilst playing adequately well.
Tomorrow our final Group C opponents, USA.