Slovenia had known that they won’t be at next year’s World Cup tournament in Qatar since last month after they had an inferior record to the top two teams namely Russia and Croatia who reached the final of the last edition before they were beaten 4-2 by eventual winners France. Ironically, Russia were the hosts of that last edition three years ago. Russia and Croatia were both drawn in Group H of the European qualifiers alongside Slovenia, Slovakia, Malta and Cyprus. At the end of proceedings in the group, Croatia sealed automatic qualification as winners, while Russia will have to navigate their way to Qatar 2022 via the playoffs.

At the top of the group, Russia were in pole position to take the sole automatic spot before they were beaten to it by the Croatians thanks to the slender 1-0 win recorded at the expense of the Russians. Fyodor Kudryashov scored an unfortunate own goal nine minutes from time as Croatia beat Russia 1-0 to usurp them at the summit of Group H and book their passage to next year’s World Cup tournament. Croatia finished at the top of the group with 23 points from ten games, while Russia had 21 points from ten games.

For their last two qualifiers played this month, Slovenia had four points. However, the four-point tally from the two games was not enough for the Slovenians to beat Slovakia to third spot in their group. In the first game this month, Slovenia were pegged back twice as they played out a 2-2 draw with home team Slovakia.

In their second World Cup qualifier in November, Slovenia beat Malta 2-1 at home thus ending a largely disappointing qualifying campaign with a win. Slovenia finished in fourth place with 14 points from ten games just as what’s obtainable with Slovakia. However, Slovakia sealed third spot with a superior goal difference. Cyprus and Malta finished in fifth and last position respectively with five points from ten games.