The Slovenia Times

Football: Slovenia Eager to Bounce Back after Missing Out on Brazil



The Slovenian team completed a mixed qualifying period for Brazil on Tuesday with a 0:1 loss to group E winners Switzerland which eliminated it from contention for a berth in next year's final tournament.

The defeat meant Slovenia finished in third place in the group, which despite falling short of a place in the playoffs for Brazil was still a major improvement on its position only six months ago, when it shared the bottom of the table.

Indeed, after starting 1-3 under previous coach Slaviša Stojanović, Slovenia completed the qualifying period with four wins from six matches under new coach Srečko Katanec to finish with 15 points.

The team is therefore eager to build on the resurgence brought by Katanec in qualifying for the next major tournament, the Euro 2016.

"Srečko has infused order and discipline into the team. The players are still the same, the difference is that we are all on the same page. We hustle together and that is the best recipe going forward," said midfielder Branko Ilić.

Analysts agree that the coaching change has resulted in a shift in mindset and play in the Slovenian team. The mood in the team was also visibly improved.

"We dug ourselves a hole early on in the qualifiers, but also managed to claw back and stay in the hunt until the very last match. We can be partly satisfied and partly disappointed, but it is clear that this team has the potential and can play even better," defender Boštjan Cesar said.

This is echoed by midfielder Kevin Kampl, who has developed into one of the stars of the team under Katanec: "We will have to continue to work very hard, but it is clear that we are increasingly jelling as a team and if we can keep this up, we will enter qualifying for Euro 2016 in good shape."

That round of qualifying will get underway in September 2014 and many in Slovenia are holding high hopes that the team will make it to the final tournament in France in 2016.

Katanec is meanwhile staying true to himself in urging caution. "We have a good starting point going forward. But we shall see how things develop."

"My only wish is that I can continue to rely on the boys currently in the team and perhaps five or six others...My wish is for them to play and develop. Time will tell what the next qualifiers will bring," he said.


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