independence from Yugoslavia in 1991, and are
out to put the country on the map in this Euro 2000 Group C encounter. Slovenia are 150/1
outsiders to win the competition but in Zlatco Zahovic, they have a very capable
goalscorer. He scored two goals in the Champions League, including one against Real
Madrid, who went on to win the trophy.
Zahovic is eager to move from Greek club
Olympiakos and will be out to impress Tottenham Hotspur; who are said to be interested in
linking him up with newly-signed Rebrov, from the Ukraine.
If Slovenia only win this game, it will be
enough for the people in Ljubljana, Maribor and various villages between the borders of
Italy and Austria.
Slovenia finished runner-up to Norway in their
qualification group and overcame Ukraine (runners-up to France) in a two-leg play-off.
Slovenia also put two goals past France in a recent friendly match, which they lost 2-3 in
injury time; after leading 2-0 in the first 10 minutes.
Slovenia have nothing to lose against
Yugoslavia, apart from their pride, and will treat this as their cup-final; where the
underdogs sometimes win.
Yugoslavia were refused
friendlies with other European countries, apart from Macedonia, and had a miserable tour
of Asia, drawing twice with South Korea and losing 2-4 to to a South China Select XI. They
reached the final twice in the 1960's, but this is the first time that they're through to
the competition proper since 1984.
Vujadin Boskov will be counting on his Italian
based players to make a major impact for Yugoslavia. Mihajlovic of Lazio, Mijatovic of
Fiorentina and Jugovic of Inter Milan, will all be names to look out for.
2-Ivan Dudic, 5-Miroslav Djukic, 11-Sinisa Mihajlovic, 21-Albert Nadj
6-Dejan Stankovic, 4-Slavisa Jokanovic, 17-Ljubinko Drulovic, 7-Vladimir Jugovic
18-Darko Kovacevic, 8-Predrag Mijatovic
4-Darko Milanic, 5-Marinko Galic, 3-Zeljko Milinovic, 7-Dzoni Novak
8-Ales Ceh, 11-Miran Pavlin, 19-Amir Karic, 13-Mladen Rudonja
9-Saso Udovic, 10-Zlatko Zahovic
Slovenia kick-off from left to right. Zahovic rolls the ball to Udovic, it's passed back
to the edge of the centre circle.
Pavlin breaks... The cross goes straight to
Kralj in the Yugoslav goal. Jokanovic fouls Pavlin. Nothing; no reaction from the referee.
Then Zahovic is on the floor. The free-kick is
rolled to Milinovic, who shoots just wide of the post.
When Yugoslavia get the ball they're closed
down quickly by Slovenia and they're off again. Non-stop action from end to end.
Kovacevic shoots at the Slovenia keeper.
Mihajlovic corner. Mihajlovic free-kick. Punched away by Dabanovic.
This was just some of the highlights from the
first ten minutes.
The Slovene captain, Milanic, is booked around
the 13th minute, but it changes nothing. Both teams go at each other with all they've got.
The game is lively and very physical. As soon
as one team gain possession the players run themselves into the ground and possession
In the 23rd minute, Zahovic
heads in a free-kick from near the penality spot, low to the Yugoslav keeper's right.
Ten minutes later, Zahovic almost makes it two
as he receives the ball on the edge of the area. No offside, only the keeper to beat and
he tries to blast the ball through his legs.
The game is played at such a pace that players
are running forward without even waiting for support.
Kovacevic steams into the area and falls down
under Dabanovic. The Slovene goalkeeper jumps over him to collect the ball. It's a comedy
of errors played with perpetual passion.
Just before half-time, Rudonja breaks for
Slovenia and is chased by Ivan Dudic of Yugoslavia. The ball is 7 yards ahead of them.
They kick each other; fall over; get up and carry on running. No card, the Portuguese
referee is letting them get on with it.
0-2. Again a free-kick. This time it's Zahovic who takes it and Pavlin
heads in Slovenia's second from about the same place Zahovic headed in the first; 52mins.
0-3. Zahovic's price has just
gone up. Kralj kicks out to Mihajlovic, who squares the ball.... but it's to the Slovene
striker, Zahovic. Kralj is on his line and has no time to react as cheers
can be heard in Ljubljana; 57mins.
Mihajlovic is sent off (58mins).
1-3. Milosevic, the sub pulls
one back. Djukic tries to hook the ball into the goal, it hits the post and Milosevic
can't miss; 67mins.
2-3. Down to ten men and the
Yugoslavs are almost level. Mijatovic to Drulovic, who blasts past an
outstretched Dabanovic; 69mins.
3-3. Unbelievable comeback.
this will have to go down as one of the most spirited performances ever. The ball is
kicked high from the half-way line to Drulovic who beats Ales Ceh and Miroslav Djukic to
set up Milosevic; 73mins. Super sub.
3 -- Slovenia 3
What a game.
Fast, furious, physical, up-front shirt-pulling, everyone on the floor, no play-acting,
nothing underhand, six goals, one red card. Both teams shake hands.
That's football played by men. Well done to both teams.
Man of the Match:
This is a tough one as everyone was so good. Man for man they gave a totally spirited
performance on every blade of grass in the same stadium that England will play Germany in,
on Saturday 17th June.
This Yugoslavia-Slovenia game should go down in history.
David almost slays Goliath; Goliath loses an arm and fights on. In the end both warriors
have the uttmost respect for each other. I bet if you asked them all to play for another
90 minutes, they would. Totally amazing.
In the spirit of this game our man of the match award is
shared between Zahovic and Milosevic; the super sub who scored a brace to level the