Ljubljana – The Slovenian Football Association (NZS) has extended the contract with its current head coach, Matjaž Kek. He will lead the Slovenian national men’s football team in the next UEFA Nations League cycle and in the qualifiers for the European Championship in 2024, the NZS said.
“By signing the contract with Matjaž Kek, we have only formalised what has already been agreed in the past, meaning he will remain head coach until the end of the qualifiers for the European Championship in 2024,” NZS head Radenko Mijatović said after the signing.
Kek will thus lead the team through the next UEFA Nations League cycle between June and September 2022, and the qualifying cycle for the next European Championship, which will take place in the summer of 2024.
Having previously led the Slovenian national football team between 2007 and 2011, Kek was reinstated as the head coach in November 2018, when he signed a contract until the end of the World Cup qualifiers in Qatar.
He was very successful during his first stint, when Slovenia reached its highest-ever position (15th) in the FIFA rankings, and he was also the last head coach to take Slovenia to a big international competition – the FIFA World Cup in South Africa in 2010.
Kek’s second term has not been as successful as the first so far, as Slovenia is currently placed 65th in the FIFA rankings, and the last two qualifying cycles for the Euros and the World Cup ended in disappointment.
Before Kek became head coach of the national team for the second time, he managed the Croatian top-flight side HNK Rijeka and became their most successful manager ever in his five-year stint, having won Rijeka’s first and only league title, two Croatian Cup titles and a Croatian Super Cup.
It was with Rijeka that he cemented his status as a capable coach and strategist, considered by many to have been the most suitable for a new term at the helm of the Slovenian national team.
Besides Srečko Katanec, Kek is the only Slovenian who has played for the national team as a footballer, led it as a coach, and taken it to a major international competition (UEFA European Championship or FIFA World Cup).