Slovenia manager Matjaz Kek was both proud and devastated after his team were knocked out of the FIFA World Cup™ in the cruellest of manners on Wednesday.
At the final whistle in their 1-0 loss to England in Port Elizabeth Slovenia were sitting in the runners-up spot in Group C. Then came shattering news from the United States' game with Algeria that Landon Donovan had grabbed an injury-time goal to give the Americans a 1-0 win.
That lifted the Americans up to the top of the table, with England now in second place and Slovenia down and out in third. Slovenia's sole previous appearance at the FIFA World Cup came in 2002 when they lost all three first round games, but they leave the 2010 edition having vastly improved on that with a win, a draw and three goals scored. Asked for his feelings when he heard the news about Donovan's stoppage time winner Kek shook his head: "It was an indescribable feeling."
He added: "I wish when our game had finished the USA game had finished too. I've seen how they scored, I don't want to comment on this. Of course we're disappointed, but I hope in time my players will be able to focus on what we've achieved here. I hope my squad can gain by this defeat."
Kek predicted his team, who overcame Russia in the play-offs for South Africa, would progress and be back on the international scene. "This squad is maturing a lot, it's created huge potential, it's up to us now to use that potential."
Kek reckoned Slovenia could have come away with a draw against England, whose defenders had to survive a burst of late pressure. "England have played well, but at the end we could have also got a draw. I congratulate England, and I hope they they go on and win the World Cup."