A Bitter Moment
What really made it worst, was that it failed to qualify for the second round of competition after the US scored a sole goal against Algeria in the last minute of second Group C match, shattering Slovenia's hopes of achieving the biggest success in national football history. Slovenian players were clearly disappointed at the outcome. "If we had more experience we could have won this game. We're disappointed, but we're proud of our four points and proud of being a real team," Robert Koren said. But coach Matjaž Kek did not share the players' disappointment, on the contrary he said he was "proud and glad to be in the company of these boys, to have done what we have done." Despite the bitter aftertaste, the South Africa campaign will go down in history as Slovenia's most successful bid yet at a major international tournament. Detailed feature about the Fifa World Cup in the next issue of the Slovenia Times.
Matjaž Kek, team coach: "Half of the world was trembling with fear before Slovenia. I am tremendously happy and proud to be in the company of these guys. Sport can be cruel: sometimes it give and sometimes it takes away. I only hope that the guys will be rewarded some time in the future. And most of all, we must keep the positive atmosphere within the team and build on it in the future."
Robert Koren, team captain: "Psychologically this is the most difficult moment for us. We were close, but we didn't reach the goal of advancing to the round of 16. However, I believe that after sleeping on it we will be very proud of our achievement. Life goes on and we have to look forward. We have to build on our relationship. The players and Slovenia as a whole should be proud."
Milivoje Novakovič, striker: "In this moment, we have to think positively. We were unjustly eliminated after what we had done. However, all credit to the guys for everything. We are a little sad now but new games and new challenges will arrive and we will be better prepared for them."
Brane Oblak, outspoken former national team coach: "The World Cup has revealed our strikers' lack of quality. We have a good goalkeeper while other players are only average. The substitutes didn't contribute anything and each team needs an impulse from the bench. The public in Slovenia was ecstatic and demanded ever more; too much, I think."
Srečko Katanec, team coach in the early 2000s: "The guys left a positive impression. The group was very evenly matched but none of the team had extra quality. I don't agree that we were unlucky. The euphoria aside, we were lucky to win against Algeria and some referees' decisions also played into our hands."Zlatko Zahovič, national team top scorer in the early 2000s: "We were close to heaven but unfortunately, things didn't work out. Results-wise, we were great and can be happy, but there is a bitter aftertaste. I can say that we exceeded the expectations. To be realistic, the performance in the first half against the USA was fantastic while the rest was pretty mediocre. The team is still young but things will be more difficult in the future because they will be expected to do well."
• In the Wake of the Defeat: Good Job, Guys! (Delo)
• The Kiss of Luck Goes to the USA (Dnevnik)
• Let Everything Go to Hell (Slovenske novice)