Central midfielder Dalibor Stevanovic generally had to settle for a supporting role during the South Africa 2010 preliminaries, with all but one of his four qualifying appearances coming from the bench. Nonetheless, this energetic and smooth-passing midfielder offers Matjaz Kek another appealing option in Slovenia’s already formidable engine room.
The 25-year-old has rarely been out of the national squad since making his senior debut in a 1-0 win over Cyprus in 2006 and, having featured in both legs of the play-off win over Russia, is a player whom Kek feels confident of throwing in against top sides. Big things were expected of Stevanovic when he left Domzale for Real Sociedad at the age of 21, but he never truly established himself in Spanish football and, after a brief spell on loan at Alaves, he took the gamble of reviving his career in Israel with Maccabi Petah Tikva.
It was a gamble that backfired, however, with a salary dispute leading to the midfielder being freed from his contract inside a few months of joining the club. Stevanovic was left to pick up the pieces, but his next decision – to accept a two-week trial at Vitesse Arnhem – did pay off, as he quickly earned a contract at the Eredivisie outfit. He also went on to make an immediate and impressive impact in the Dutch top flight, helping Vitesse climb to a respectable mid-table position and cementing a regular place in the club’s starting XI.