Slovenia

Good performances against England could see players make a summer transfer

World Cup 2010, World Cup team
World Cup 2010, World Cup team
World Cup 2010, World Cup team
World Cup 2010, World Cup team
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The team

Slovenia first qualified for the FIFA World Cup in 2002, but finished bottom of their group table. After failing to qualify again in 2006, they are back for 2010 – not bad for a country of just two million people. Their secret is said to be their strong defence, something that held off Russia in the qualifying stages, securing their surprise qualification.

The coach

Matjaz Kek
A former defender for the Slovenian side, Kek (far right) earned his first cap for the team in 1992 when his country first gained independence from Yugoslavia. He became manager in 2007, and said the recent victory over Russia shows how far they’ve come.

Player to watch

Milivoje Novakovic
This striker plays for club side Cologne, and scored five times in the qualifying stages. His name is often on the score sheet, most recently in a friendly against Qatar.

We’re on the ball

World cup appearances: 1
Previous best: Group stages, 2002
Odds of winning: 300/1
Strange but true: While Slovenia has a population of just two million, the country they beat in the play-offs, Russia, has a population of 142 million
Fixtures: Algeria, June 13, 3.30pm, Polokwane USA, June 18, 6pm, Johannesburg England, June 23, 6pm, Port Elizabeth

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