Maribor – The Slovenian men’s football team conceded defeat to Russia (1:2) in Maribor on Monday evening. Thus, Slovenia failed to qualify for the 2022 World Cup.
The eighth match of the qualification was fatal for the Slovenian side, which will miss out on the World Cup in Qatar. The team still has two more matches to play, one away match in Slovakia and a home game against Cyprus.
In front of some 6,500 spectators, Slovenia fruitlessly attempted to equalise in the second half after Josip Iličić scored a goal at the end of the first. Russia already scored twice before with the scorers being Igor Diveyev and Georgi Dzhikiya.
In the 75th minute, Slovenia celebrated what the players believed to be an equaliser, but the celebrations came to nothing due to an offside position.
Meanwhile, Slovakia pulled out a draw in the face-off with Croatia, which together with Slovenia’s devastating loss means the latter country failed to bag a ticket to Qatar.
Yesterday’s match against Russia was Slovenia’s seventh game and fourth loss against this opponent.
There were moments of inspiration during the face-off, but all in all Slovenia was unable to repeat the 2009 fairytale ending when the team, led by the same coach, Matjaž Kek, and playing at the same arena, rode home court to a surprise victory against the stronger rival and a ticket to the 2010 World Cup.
After the match, Kek said: “It’s clear that there is a lot of disappointment when you don’t reach a target. We fell behind too quickly after the breaks, we came back, but the Russians were smart, tactical and responsible in breaking the rhythm.”
He noted that Slovenia had to play the qualification until the end, this time merely for the ranking.