Slovenia national football team
|Association||Nogometna zveza Slovenije (NZS)|
|Head coach||Srečko Katanec|
|Most caps||Zlatko Zahovič (80)|
|Top scorer||Zlatko Zahovič (35)|
|Home stadium||Arena Petrol (Celje)
Ljudski vrt (Maribor)
|FIFA ranking||29 +1|
|Highest FIFA ranking||15 (October – November 2010)|
|Lowest FIFA ranking||134 (December 1993)|
|Highest Elo ranking||28 (November 2001)|
|Lowest Elo ranking||87 (November 1993)|
Slovenia 0–5 France
(Ljubljana, Kingdom of Yugoslavia; 23 June 1921)
Estonia 1–1 Slovenia
(Tallinn, Estonia; 3 June 1992)
| Oman 0–7 Slovenia
(Muscat, Oman; 8 February 1999)
| France 5–0 Slovenia
(Saint-Denis, France; 12 October 2002)
|Appearances||2 (First in 2002)|
|Best result||Round 1, 2002 and 2010|
|Appearances||1 (First in 2000)|
|Best result||Round 1, 2000|
The Slovenia national football team is the national football team of Slovenia and is controlled by the Football Association of Slovenia. The team played its first match in 1992 after the split of Yugoslavia in 1991.
Slovenia was a surprise qualifier for UEFA Euro 2000, when they beat Ukraine in a playoff. The team then drew with Yugoslavia and Norway, and lost to Spain 2–1. Slovenia achieved another major success two years later, qualifying for the 2002 World Cup, this time defeating Romania in a playoff. The team did not lose a match in its whole qualifying campaign, recording six wins and six draws, but not scoring any points in the group stage of the finals.
Despite failing to qualify for the 2006 World Cup, it was the only team to beat eventual winner Italy with a 1–0 victory on home turf. In 1995 Slovenia played Italy to a 1–1 draw in the qualifying campaign for UEFA Euro 1996. In November 2009, Slovenia defeated Russia in a playoff to clinch a berth in the 2010 FIFA World Cup.
- 1 History
- 1.1 Origins
- 1.2 Independence (1991–1998)
- 1.3 Srečko Katanec and Zlatko Zahovič period ('Golden' generation)
- 1.4 Bojan Prašnikar period
- 1.5 Branko Oblak period (decline)
- 1.6 Matjaž Kek period (rebirth)
- 2 Stadium
- 3 Kit
- 4 Nickname
- 5 Schedule and results
- 6 Squad
- 7 Competition history
- 8 Statistics
- 9 All-time team record
- 10 See also
- 11 References
- 12 External links
Before Slovenian independence in 1991, the Slovenian national team existed only as a regional team not officially recognized by FIFA. It had a similar status as the Catalonia national football team or Kosovo national football team. The team had mostly played against similar teams from other republics of SFR Yugoslavia and was represented by Slovenian players under the traditional colours of white, blue and red.
In 1991, Slovenia was the first of the republics, alongside Croatia, to gain independence from Yugoslavia. With the recognition of the new country by the international community the team was recognized also by FIFA and UEFA. The new Slovenian national football team played its first FIFA-recognized game on 3 June 1992 in Tallinn against Estonia. The match ended in a 1–1 draw, with Igor Benedejčič scoring the first goal for the new team. The first coach of the team was Bojan Prašnikar.
It was not until its third game on 7 April 1993 that the team achieved its first international victory by defeating Estonia 2–0 at the ŽŠD Stadium in Ljubljana, with goals scored by Samir Zulič and Sašo Udovič.
From 1994–1997 the team coach was Zdenko Verdenik, who was the first to lead the team through qualifications for a major tournament. In a group with Italy, Croatia, Ukraine, Lithuania and Estonia the team had mild success, winning three games and taking eleven points on ten matches for the Euro 1996 qualifications.
Verdenik also coached the team through qualifications for France 1998. In a tough group with Croatia, Denmark, Greece and Bosnia and Herzegovina the team finished last with only one point on eight matches and a goal differential of −15.
Afterwards, Verdenik was sacked and Bojan Prašnikar was named as the Slovenian coach for the second time. At the time he was also the head coach of the Slovenian top club Maribor and was given an ultimatum from the NZS that he could only coach one team. He decided in favor of Maribor, which later turned out to be a good decision, as he led the club to the UEFA Champions League group stages only two seasons later. NZS appointed Srečko Katanec as the head coach.
Srečko Katanec and Zlatko Zahovič period ('Golden' generation)
Srečko Katanec immediately started to implement his tactics of defensive play with hard work ethic to the players of the national team and the results was seen quickly as the team started to play better.
Euro 2000 qualifications campaign
The first qualifications for the new coach were for UEFA Euro 2000. Slovenia was drawn into a group with Norway, Greece, Latvia, Albania and Georgia. With excellent performances under the guidance of the new coach and with terrific performances from Zlatko Zahovič, who scored eight out of twelve goals, the team secured 2nd position two rounds before the end of qualifications.
Second place in the group meant that the team was to play additional qualifications with an opponent that was to be decided by UEFA in a draw. Slovenia got somewhat lucky with a draw as they were picked to play with Ukraine. The first leg against Ukraine was played in Ljubljana Slovenia won 2–1 after trailing at the half. Zlatko Zahovič scored the first goal, bringing his total in the qualifications campaign to nine. Milenko Ačimovič added a spectacular second, late in the game from more than 40 meters. The second leg was played in snowy conditions in Kiev. Sergei Rebrov scored in the 68th minute, equalised by Miran Pavlin ten minutes later. The 1–1 draw meant that Slovenia won 3–2 on aggregate and qualified on its first major tournament.
For its first major tournament, Slovenia was drawn into group C together with Spain, Yugoslavia and Norway. Despite being an outsider Slovenia showed the international community that it can play top level football and was by many one of the most pleasant surprises of the tournament. Almost 30,000 fans from Slovenia gathered to see their national team play in three matches on Euro 2000. At the end Zlatko Zahovič was considered one of the best players on the tournament.
In the first game of the group Slovenia stunned Yugoslavia and took a 3–0 lead after one hour of play, with Zlatko Zahovič scoring twice and Miran Pavlin once. After the red card of Siniša Mihajlović it looked like the team would have won its first game, but then Yugoslavia made a dream comeback as they scored three goals in only six minutes. The final result was 3–3.
The second game was played in Amsterdam against Spain. Spain took the 1–0 lead quickly as Raúl scored. Slovenia equalised after one hour of play as Zlatko Zahovič scored his third goal of the tournament. Spain then took the lead again after only sixty seconds as Joseba Etxeberria scored a goal winner. 13,000 Slovenian fans gathered to see the match in Amsterdam Arena, which is still a record for the most Slovenian spectators on a football game outside Slovenia.
In the last round of the group stage Slovenia played against Norway and still had theoretical chances to progress to the quarterfinals. At the end the game was a goalless draw and the team won its second point of the tournament.
World Cup 2002 qualifications campaign
For the World Cup 2002 Slovenia was drawn into a group together with Russia, Yugoslavia, Switzerland, Faroe Islands and Luxembourg. Zlatko Zahovič was once more the man behind the success of the team as he scored four goals and made numerous assists to lead his team to second place, which meant that the team had again qualified to the playoffs.
The games with Romania was similar to the ones against Ukraine in the playoffs two years earlier. The first leg was again played in Slovenia and again the away team scored a goal in the first half to take the lead. However, this time Slovenia managed to equalise with the goal from Milenko Ačimovič in the first half. In the second half Milan Osterc scored a spectacular goal and Slovenia won the game 2–1. In the second leg in Bucharest the first half finished with 0–0 and at the beginning of the second Slovenia took the lead with a goal from Mladen Rudonja, which was the first and only goal from the striker in 65 caps for the national team. Romanians equalised with a goal scored by Cosmin Contra with 25 minutes remaining. The final result was 1–1 and Slovenia was qualified to its second consecutive major tournament and first ever World Cup.
Through the whole qualifications campaign Slovenia played a total of 12 games and was undefeated with a total of 6 wins and 6 draws.
World Cup 2002
On the first game Slovenia played against Spain for the second time in a row on a major tournament. Under heavy rain Spain took the lead late in the first half with the goal from Raúl. Valerón added a second 15 minutes before full-time for a 2–0 lead. Then seven minutes later Sebastjan Cimirotič managed to score the first World Cup goal for Slovenia to reduce the score to 2–1, giving Slovenia some hope. That hope was soon shattered when Fernando Hierro scored a penalty goal in 87 minute for the final score of 3–1. This match is infamous in Slovenia due to the conflict between coach Srečko Katanec and player Zlatko Zahovič in the dressing room after the game, which resulted in Zlatko Zahovič being sent home and Srečko Katanec's resignation after the tournament. After this conflict the team was not the same and they capitulated on its two remaining matches against South Africa (1–0) and Paraguay (3–1). Milenko Ačimovič scored the second goal for Slovenia on the tournament.
Bojan Prašnikar period
After the resignation of Srečko Katanec, Bojan Prašnikar was named as head coach for the third time.
Euro 2004 qualifications campaign
This time Slovenia had to play its neighboring country as the draw set a duel against Croatia. The first leg was played in Zagreb and Croatia managed to get in the lead as Dado Pršo scored a goal in the 5th minute. Slovenia however fought back as Ermin Šiljak equalised only 15 minutes later. The match finished 1–1. In the second leg played in Ljubljana the first half finished with no goals. Then 15 minutes into the second Dado Pršo scored again and Croatia took the lead. Later Slovenia, despite the fact that Croatia played the last minutes with 10 players due to a red card, did not produce any quality chances and the match finished 1–0 in favour of Croatia. That meant that Croatia qualified on Euro 2004 with the score 2–1 on aggregate. Bojan Prašnikar was later criticised by the media and the fans for his defensive tactics as Slovenia only managed to take one shot on target during the two playoff games. Prašnikar was later replaced by Branko Oblak.
Ermin Šiljak scored a total of eight goals in the whole campaign, thus becoming the best goalscorer of the whole UEFA zone qualifications.
Branko Oblak period (decline)
When Branko Oblak took charge of the Slovenian national team there were almost no more players from the era of Srečko Katanec as most of them retired from football or in the case of Zlatko Zahovič were scratched by the coach himself. Therefore the new coach had a difficult job finding new players that could compete on the same level as the ones that played for the team in the past decade. This is the main reason why Branko Oblak in his two years as the coach of the national team tried out over 40 different players.
He led the team through the qualifications for World Cup 2006 in Germany. In a group with Italy, Norway, Scotland, Belarus and Moldova the team achieved a victory over Moldova and Italy and a draw against Scotland, thus winning seven points in the first three games. Later however the team won only five points on the remaining matches and finished in fourth place.
Branko Oblak also coached the team at the beginning of the qualifications for Euro 2008. In a group with Netherlands, Romania, Bulgaria, Belarus, Albania and Luxembourg the team quickly lost its qualification hopes with two heavy defeats by Bulgaria (3–0) and Belarus (4–2) and a 2–0 win over Luxembourg after a poor performance. Oblak had lost the support from the media and fans some time ago and he was sacked and replaced by Matjaž Kek.
Matjaž Kek period (rebirth)
After Matjaž Kek took charge the national team was in similar situation as in 1998 when Srečko Katanec took charge. On the bottom, having lost the faith from both the media and the fans. With the qualification hopes for Euro 2008 virtually lost Kek decided to build his team slowly. At the beginning the results were not much better than at the time when Branko Oblak left and Kek was under a lot of pressure because of that. After the campaign for the Euro 2008 was finished it was even speculated that he will be replaced by a well known Italian coach of Slovenian origin Edoardo Reja. In the end that did not happen and Kek was given a chance to prove himself in a qualifications for World Cup 2010.
World Cup 2010 qualifications campaign
Slovenia was drawn into a group with Czech Republic, Poland, Northern Ireland, Slovakia and San Marino. Slovenia held Poland to a 1–1 draw in Wrocław and then won its first two home games against Slovakia (2–1) and Northern Ireland (2–0),. Slovenia then won only one point in the two games with the Czech Republic and lost away against Northern Ireland, when they got back on track with the home 5–0 victory over San Marino. After that the team really started to play well as they beat Poland at home (3–0) and defeated Slovakia in Bratislava (2–0) who were at the time the main contenders for the first place. In the last round Slovenia needed a win over San Marino (3–0) and a draw/loss of Slovakia in Poland to clinch the first position. Slovakia however won the away game in Poland with 1–0 and therefore Slovenia finished on second position and was headed to the playoffs for the fourth time in history.
Slovenia did not have much luck when the draw appointed Russia as their opponent for the playoffs. Russia had high hopes as it did well at the Euro 2008 and with Guus Hiddink leading them everything seemed at reach for Russia. Other possible opponents were France, Portugal and Greece.
The first leg was played in Moscow and Russia played well as they had the lead 2–0 up until 88 minute when a substitute Nejc Pečnik scored a goal that gave hope for Slovenia. In the second leg that was played in Maribor Slovenia was dominant through the first half but only managed to score once as Zlatko Dedič scored at the end of the first half. That goal however turned out to be a decisive one as the score remained 1–0 to the end of the match. The final score of the playoffs against Russia was 2–2 aggregate and Slovenia qualified due to the away goals rule. Slovenia was the only unseeded team that managed to qualify from the playoffs.
The main scorer for the national team was Milivoje Novaković with 5 goals. Slovenia did particularly well on home games that were played in Maribor as the team managed to achieve five victories and a draw with a total goal difference 13–1.
World Cup 2010
Slovenia were drawn into Group C alongside England, Algeria and the USA. Slovenia won their opening game against Algeria in Peter Mokaba Stadium, Polokwane 1–0, Robert Koren scoring Slovenia's goal. In their second game against the United States, Slovenia were leading 2–0 at half time with Valter Birsa and Zlatan Ljubijankič scoring for Slovenia, however Landon Donovan and Michael Bradley scored for the USA for the score to finish 2–2. In their last match in the preliminary round, Slovenia lost to England 0–1 by a goal from Jermain Defoe. Because the United States beat Algeria with the only goal scored in the 92nd minute of the match, the Slovenian team was eliminated.
2014 FIFA World Cup qualifications campaign
Slovenia does not have a national stadium, and through history the national team was rotated among various stadia across the country. The team has played home matches in 8 different cities so far. The current policy of Slovenian FA is that home matches of the national teams are fairly distributed among the two biggest cities in the country, Ljubljana and Maribor while also a stadium in Celje is considered for future matches. There are four main stadiums in three different cities in the country that the team has played the majority of its matches or will play in the future.
Bežigrad Stadium (past)
Bežigrad stadium is located in the capital city of Ljubljana and was the main stadium until 2004, when UEFA banned it due to insufficient infrastructure. The stadium was built in 1935 and up until now it hosted a total of 29 matches of the national team, which is the most then any other stadium in the country. It has a total capacity of 8,211 and was the main venue of the national team in the qualifications for Euro 2000 and World cup 2002 on which Slovenia qualified and the qualifications for Euro 2004 when the team secured 2nd position in the group and then lost in playoffs.
Currently the stadium is closed for renovation. Plans are for the stadium to be completely renovated by 2012 when it could once again serve as a home venue for the national team. However this is unlikely as there is a brand new stadium that was recently built in Ljubljana and has a capacity of 16,038 seats.
Ljudski vrt is situated in Maribor, Slovenia's 2nd largest city and is known of being the home ground of the most successful club in the country NK Maribor. After the renovation of the stadium in 2008 the ground became the main venue of the national team and Slovenia played their first match there after nearly a decade. The stadium current capacity is 12,994 covered seats. Ljudski vrt was the main home venue in the qualifications for World cup 2010 where Slovenia did particularly well as the team won five and draw one home matches with goal difference 13–1. The stadium was also one of two main venues for the Euro 2012 qualifications.
Arena Petrol is a stadium located in Celje, the 3rd largest city of Slovenia. It was built in 2003 onwards in separate phases and was the main venue for the national team in the qualifications for World cup 2006 and Euro 2008. The stadium is not popular among the fans as it is build in English style with four separate stands and many fans argue that is the reason for lack of atmosphere during matches. The capacity of the stadium is 13,006 seats from which only around 50% are covered. Slovenia played 16 matches on this stadium, with the last one played in 2007. Former president of Slovenian FA (Ivan Simič) announced that the stadium will be in consideration for the national team matches in the future.
Stadion Stožice is a brand new stadium located in the capital city of Ljubljana. The stadium has a capacity of 16,038 seats and will be one of the main venues for the national team in the future. The opening match was played in August 2010 against Australia, which was won 2–0. The stadium was one of two main venues for the Euro 2012 qualifications.
Up until 1992 when Slovenia was not affiliated to either FIFA or UEFA the team played its matches in the traditional colours of Slovenian nation white, blue and red. After independence and recognition by FIFA and UEFA the team continued to play in the same colours up until 1994, when the board of Slovenian FA decided to change the colours to white and green, which are the traditional colours of the capital city of Ljubljana and also of the most successful club at the time NK Olimpija which was based in the same city.
Because of that fact and the fact that green was never the national colour of Slovenian nation many people had argued that the new combination was inappropriate and a movement was started to return the colours back to where they were from the start. Claims to return the national team colours back to white, blue and red were especially strong in the eastern and northern part of the country (Specifically in Carinthia and in Styria) and according to various surveys conducted after 1994 throughout the country some two thirds of the people did not support the white and green combination and wanted a change (in the eastern part of the country the number of people who opposed the combination was sometimes in excess of 80%). This is the reason why a new board of Slovenian FA, that came to power at the start of 2009 immediately opted for a change of the colours. In December 2009 the board voted for the change of the jersey colours and from 2012 onwards the main colours of the team will be white for home and blue for away matches.
In February 2011 it was again confirmed, by the Football Association of Slovenia, that the jersey colours will change in 2012 and that the kit provider, Nike, has already started to design the national team jerseys in white, blue and red.
Slovenia does not have a nickname and was according to media the only team on World Cup 2010 without it. With the qualification on the World Cup 2010 there where attempts from the home journalists to pick the nickname for the team, but that was not well taken among the fans as most of them feel that a process to obtain a nickname should occur naturally.
Recently, there were some articles abroad that suggested that the team is called The Dragons, however that is not the case in Slovenia as that is the sign only of the capital city of Ljubljana and a nickname of NK Olimpija from the same city and has nothing to do with the country itself. The idea of The Dragons is not well taken among the fans and is not used either by home media or the fans nor is it used by the fans of NK Olimpija themself. However, due to the long tradition of NK Olimpija playing in Yugoslav football league some football fans from former Yugoslav republics (Serbia) use this nickname to describe the Slovenian national team. However, things change just across the border as The Dragons is one of the nicknames that is used by Bosnian media and fans to describe their own national football team. The generation behind coach Srečko Katanec and star player Zlatko Zahovič is still referred to as the golden generation.
Schedule and results
Recent and upcoming games
Caps and goals updated as of 19 November 2013.
The following players have also been called up to the Slovenia squad in the last 12 months.
World Cup record
European Championship record
Still active players are highlighted
Home venues record
All-time team record