FIFA/Coca-Cola World Ranking: 25
Slovenia will be making their second appearance in the World Cup, which is extremely impressive considering they are a country of only 2 million people that only gained its independence from Yugoslavia in 1991. One could argue that the country has much more experience than the two World Cups, since Yugoslavia had participated in eight World Cups.
Slovenia has already surprised folks by qualifying for the World Cup when many didn’t give them any chance in the qualifying group they were drawn with. They ultimately finished second in their group behind Slovakia and had to beat Russia in a play-off to advance to the World Cup.
Slovenia will have a difficult time progressing from Group C, where they are matched up with England (ranked 8th), the United States (ranked 14th) and Algeria (ranked 30th).
Slovenia is coached by Matjaz Kek, who took over the regular national team in 2007 after working with under-15 and under-16 sides. Kek is considered a very thoughtful and tactical coaching who studies his opponents very intensely before matches. He has done a great job uniting this team and has turned them into a very well-organized, defensive team. In fact, they only allowed four goals in ten qualification matches.
One of the key players for Slovenia is forward Milivoje Novakovic, who led the team with five goals in qualification.
They are captained by Robert Koren, who is the playmaker for this Slovenian side. He is an attacking midfielder who controls the center of the field well and has to play well for this Slovenia team to have any chance.
Another important name on this team is goalkeeper Samir Handanovic. Handanovic is possibly Slovenia’s most well-known player, playing for Udinese in Serie A. He is a very tall goalie at 6 ft. 5 in., and is extremely agile for his size. He was very impressive during qualifiers and will have to continue that play for Slovenia to stand a chance.