Slovenia coach piles pressure on England side that 'need to win'
Wednesday 23 June 2010
Slovenia were given an even greater incentive to tell the football world who they are when a simultaneous translation into "Slovakian" was offered at their manager's press conference.
The error was spotted, amended written instructions were hastily issued offering a Slovenian translation and a Fifa official apologised, but the mistake still registered. The Slovenes have a slight complex about that commonly repeated error and it did not help that Slovakia – who don't get the same insult – are at the tournament too.
The manager, Matjaz Kek, also quickly tired of England and John Terry dominating the press conference, though he reminded England that they are ones facing pressure. "I want to point out that England has to go to the second round," he said. "Slovenia wishes to get to the second round. That's our wish. I'm just dealing with the problems Slovenia faces, not the problems England face."
Kek was characteristically non-committal on how to approach a match which Slovenia, ranked 25th in the world, need only draw to progress.
"I don't want to go into details because I'll tell you too much about our strategy," he said. "This would mean a lot [to our nation]," Kek added. "It would be a terrific success to get into the second round. But I'm not interested in who won't make it there because of us. We want to get there."
There were some remarkable statements flying around the press conference, Kek describing England as "still the favourites ... to win the World Cup at the very end," and defender Bojan Jokic suggesting England played "very good, mature football," in their previous games.
The nation can only be encouraged by what they have seen in their own side, with Slovenian commentators here last night concluding lively right-footer Valter Birsa might switch from his natural flank to the left to attack the perceived defensive weakness of Glen Johnson. That would leave the slower Andraz Kirm up against Ashley Cole, whom the Slovenes do not seem to feel they can beat.
The other individual to look out for in the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium tonight is Miso Brecko, the right-back who has been the nation's player of the tournament so far. He looked to made a match-winning contribution against the United States – steering the ball away from danger at 1-0 up when Landon Donovan seemed set to equalise, then, within minutes, sparking the move which saw his side go 2-0 up.
The weak links include defender Marko Suler, who was destroyed in the US game and looks suspect in the air, though Fabio Capello seemed unlikely to start Peter Crouch to test that faultline. There have been painfully few questions about the opposition at England press conferences and not one came at Capello last night. Any sense of indignation could build a passionate performance: Kek will not be complaining.
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