A late error proved costly as Slovenia only drew with Serbia. Slovenia took the lead through striker Milivoje Novakovic in the 63rd minute and appeared to be headed to victory when Serbia’s Nikola Zigic capitalised on poor marking in the box to head home. Following their surpise defeat to Northern Ireland on Friday, Slovenia came into the match hungry for redemption. This showed early on as Slovenia looked more dangerous with the ball.
Slovenia failed to win its opening Euro 2012 qualifiers after being defeated by Northern Ireland. Slovenia squandered a host of chances in the first half with Milivoje Novakovic and Zlatan Ljubijankic posing a potent attacking threat.
The hosts dominated after the break but the visitors netted in a rare attack as Evans turned in Craig Cathcart’s low cross at the backpost on 70 minutes.
Maik Taylor saved from Josip Ilicic as Northern Ireland held on for the win.
Slovenia made it into the top 20 of FIFA rankings for the first time in the country’s history after an impressive showing in the World Cup.
One win and a draw out of three matches at the World Cup in South Africa propelled the Slovenian national football team to the 19th place in FIFA’s latest world rankings, the highest ranking ever for Slovenia.
Their previous high was the 23th spot in April. President of the Slovenian Football Association (NZS) Ivan Simic said ahead of the World Cup that Slovenia’s goal was to get among the top 20.
Slovenia coach Matjaz Kek has trimmed his World Cup squad to 23 on Tuesday by dropping three more players from his provisional roster.
Jan Koprivec, Aleksandar Rajcevic, Dare Vrsic and Miran Burgic were already cut from the original 30-man squad and now Mirnes Sisic, Darian Matic and Dejan Kelhar have also been told that they will miss out on this summer’s tournament.
Young attacker Tim Matavz is the biggest surprise in the final squad. The Groningen attacker has yet to make his first international appearance for Slovenia’s senior side.
Slovenia captain Robert Koren has told ESPNsoccernet he is confident that Slovenia will prove they deserve their place on the world stage at this summer’s World Cup finals.
Many in the football world are sceptical about Slovenia’s ability to mix it with the big boys at the finals, but Koren, who has spent the last three years in England playing for West Brom, insists his team are ready to prove the doubters wrong.
“There are not many people who believed we could go to the world so it is a big, big achievement for us as such a small country,” Koren told Soccernet.
Slovenia boosted its confidence ahead of the World Cup with a 4-1 victory over Qatar in a friendly on Wednesday.
Slovenia was aggressive from the start, with Milivoje Novakovic opening the scoring in the 13th minute and Bostjan Cesar adding a second in the 30th after collecting a pass from Andraz Kirm, who then made it 3-0 just four minutes later.
Brazilian-born player Fabio Montesin pulled a goal back for Qatar just before halftime but Bojan Jokic ended any hopes of a Qatar comeback with Slovenia’s fourth in the 67th minute.
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