Slovenian footballers advance in UEFA Nations League

Slovenia players gather before the UEFA Nations League soccer match between Greece and Slovenia at Georgios Kamaras stadium in Athens, Wednesday, Nov. 18, 2020. (AP Photo/Thanassis Stavrakis)

Athens, 19 November – The Slovenian men’s football team eked out a goalless draw with Greece in Athens on Wednesday evening to earn promotion from the third to the second tier of the UEFA Nations League.

After a dismal performance in the previous season of the competition, which would place them in the lowest-tier League D had the competition not subsequently changed its format, Slovenia bounced back in style in the current season.

The draw had put Slovenia in Group C of League 3 with Kosovo, Moldova and Greece, in which Slovenia earned four wins and two draws to eventually place first in the group with 14 points and earn the sole ticket to League B in the 2022-23 season.

After a 2:1 win against Kosovo at home on 15 November, Slovenia needed only a point from yesterday’s match with Greece to secure first place in the group, which they did in what was a forgettable goalless match.

At the same time, Slovenia have remained in play for a berth in additional qualifiers for the 2022 World Cup.

Head coach Matjaž Kek said that Slovenia “has deserved to win the group. The home team wanted to win, they put pressure on us, we suffered, but everything paid out with the result, which had been our goal, but not the primary one.”

He added that the promotion to League B was a great reward for the players, who had worked hard, and had managed to build a true team. “As the coach, I’m happy that we have build a foundation, that we have managed to present some new faces.”

We have reminded Slovenia that football is still here. This is a respectful result, but we should not get complacent. I’m happy, although perhaps the most difficult month in my coaching career is behind me,” Kek concluded.