Slovenia dreams of qualifying for Euro 2024: Belfast is the next stop towards a goal that’s getting closer, but still a long way off
No sooner was one key one over than another one is here. Slovenia qualifies for the seventh round of the Euro 2024. Finland, on Tuesday night they will face another tough, uncomfortable, anything but easy and – above all – crucial match. Next in line towards the goal we want to achieve, the one we dream of and the one that has slipped through our fingers time and time again in the last 13 years. This time we must not.
This time we won’t, many would dare to say. But a pitch is a pitch, and Northern Ireland is anything but a favourable opponent on its own turf. It’s true that in Ljubljana they got a big hump, but this time it will probably be different. But Slovenia should be no different. Slovenia needs to do even better, so that Euro 2024 will finally become a goal that will not slip out of our hands.
There’s no reason why Slovenia can’t be the one
“The game will probably be very similar to the first one in Stožice. It might be a bit more difficult, because we are playing at home, and the stands will probably be full. The atmosphere will be good. We are ready for a fight, and we will respond with a physical game. As a national team, we are currently on a good run. We feel good and work well as a team. There’s no reason why Belfast can’t get it right too. We need to prepare well and leave everything on the pitch,” said Jaka Bijol, a pillar of the defence, ahead of the showdown at Windsor Park, a stadium where there has not been much scoring bread from Slovenian flour in the past.
The match in Belfast will kick off at 20.45 BST, refereed by Istvan Kovacs from Romania. In Group H, Finland-Kazakhstan and San Marino-Denmark will also be played.
The Udinese player, who has proved to be one of the most important members of Kek’s squad in recent times, added before the showdown with the written-off but still dangerous Northern Irish: “We are on the right track, but we are not there yet. Northern Ireland is another step towards that, so let’s go for the win. We were already happy when we gathered for the national team preparations. And now there are good results to go with it. Victories boost the atmosphere and morale. That’s it, we go to Northern Ireland with confidence. We know what our job is. We don’t deviate from our games. We need to be 100%.”
It should be added (but not too loudly) that Windsor Park has never been a happy place for Slovenia. She has played three games there, but has not yet tasted the joy of victory. It lost twice and drew once. Matjaž Kek is therefore a man on a double mission: to break a new taboo and – clearly more importantly – to bring Slovenia closer to Euro 2024.
Slovenia has no major personnel problems ahead of the match on the Island. Benjamin Šeško took a painful blow to the head against Finland and even bled. But the young star will still lead the Slovenian attack again and try to become only 11. the highest scorer in Slovenian history with double-digit goals in a national team jersey. Šeško is currently on nine goals, four of which came in this year’s qualifiers, in which he is Slovenia’s top scorer. Let’s add that Northern Ireland will be slightly weakened, with Middlesbrough‘s Paddy McNair missing due to three yellow cards.
How much longer? At least five more
All this raises the question of how many points Slovenia actually needs to qualify for the European Championships in Germany. The answer is simple: at least five. But it is also true that the results of the remaining matches could have a major impact on her fate. If we had gone to her… Well, let’s leave the maths and the maths aside for the moment. Yes, we are close. Yes, Germany is on the horizon. It is becoming more visible from game to game. But it can still break. So take heart. And above all, forward with our hearts. The goal is near. Let’s make sure we achieve it. You on the pitch. We are right behind your backs. Slovenia believes!
This text was automatically translated using AI.