Slovenia have participated in international competition after
gaining independence following the break-up of Yugoslavia in 1991.
After missing out on a place at France 1998, they qualified for the
FIFA World Cup™ finals at the second attempt. Unfortunately, they
were given a lesson at Korea/Japan 2002 in the form of three
Slovenia made amends by finishing second in their qualifying group for UEFA EURO 2004 behind continental heavyweights France, displaying along the way a level of skill for which their former Yugoslav players were renowned.
Slovenia hit the ground running as 2006 FIFA World Cup™
qualifying got underway, a 3-0 victory over Moldova and a shock 1-0
reverse of a highly-fancied Italy propelling them to the top of the
group early on. The East Europeans' talisman was striker
Milenko Acimovic, a hat-trick hero in the Moldova encounter. But
this did not prove to be enough for the Slovenians who ended up in
fourth position behind Italy, Norway and Scotland after
disappointing results on home soil, notably a 1-1 against Belarus
and defeats by Norway and Scotland.
Their downswing continued in qualification for UEFA EURO 2008 with the likes of Romania, Netherlands and Bulgaria leaving Slovenia in their wake. However, the team is about to experience a change of generations and hopes will be high that their emerging players are good enough to lead Slovenia to a place at South Africa 2010.