Coach Matjaz Kek said his priority is to get his Slovenia side ready for next week's FIFA World Cup™ clash with England after they conceded a late equaliser in Friday's 2-2 draw with the United States.
Slovenia were heading for the knockout round after taking a 2-0 lead thanks to goals by midfielder Valter Birsa and striker Zlatan Ljubijankic before the USA fought back to force the equaliser. The result left Slovenia on top of Group C with four points, two ahead of the USA while England, with one point, play Algeria, yet to get off the mark, later on Friday in Cape Town. The group concludes next Wednesday when Slovenia play England in Port Elizabeth and the States face Algeria.
After his side's tough battle with the North Americans, Kek says he expects a busy weekend to prepare his players for their clash with Fabio Capello's England. "My priority now is to help my side recover in time for England, the Americans have a very physical squad and we expended a lot of energy," he said with his side still unbeaten thanks to their opening win over Algeria. "We need to regroup, but I think it is very clear what we are up against now."
Despite blowing a two-goal lead, Kek said he was proud of his squad. "But there is of course something of an after taste, expectations have not been met," he said. "We were 2-0 up and then we didn't overcome the pressure and there was a blunder or two. There is a lot of pride and some disappointment, but we might well benefit from it ahead of playing England."
Having controlled the game in the first half, Kek's side took their foot off the gas, but he said his side's fighting spirit to stay in the game, despite intense pressure from the USA, bodes well for the England match.
"The first half was excellent, but there was a drop in concentration which the United States benefited from and then they drew level," he said. "This was a very good match and my squad showed their qualities, especially when it came to showing some aggression."