Saturday 24 February 2018

Kek praises Slovenia step forward

Slovenia coach Matjaz Kek hailed the great step forward his team have taken in 12 months from struggling to qualify for the finals to being a win away from the last 16.

Kek described his team's second Group C match against the United States at Ellis Park as a "huge challenge," but their victory over Algeria means they go into the match in pole position in the group and can assure themselves of a place in the knockout phase with another three points.

"A year ago we were making preparations for playing San Marino, today we are thinking about the knockout stage in our second match," Kek said.

"A great step has been taken and our squad has achieved a great evolution. This is not the most important match in our history, but it is important and it can establish Slovenia on the global map of football. I know we have the smallest population of all the teams in the World Cup, but we have not come here to rest, we are active participants in this World Cup. A year back things were completely different."

Kek is full of respect for the USA side, and added: "America's quality is in their collective approach and their physical and mental ability. They also have individuals who can play a pivotal role."

Irish Independent

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