The Full 90

2010 World Cup Preview: Slovenia

In a world, where every four years, 32 nations gather to determine a champion, only one team can hoist the World Cup trophy. [Cue the massive explosions.]

With apologies to "Iron Man 2," "Twilight" and whatever other blockbusters are headed to theaters this summer, none of them can compare to the most dramatic event of 2010: The World Cup.

The World Cup, in addition to being the only truly world championship outside of the Olympic Games, is the only tournament capable of providing the full range of human emotion:

Anger

,

awe

,

boredom

,

depression

,

disgust

,

embarrassment

,

euphoria

,

frustration

,

guilt

,

misery

,

pride

,

rage

and

surprise

. The best screenwriters couldn't script some of those things.

To get you ready for the drama that will start unfolding on June 11 in South Africa, The Star and The Full 90 will introduce you to the teams, the key performers, what to look for and what to expect in this year's Cup.

Today, we kick off the Group of Maximum Anglo-Attention: Group C. Starting with the team we know the least about...

Slovenia

Group C THE BASICS

Nickname:

Zmajeceki (Dragons)



Colors:

White, green and yellow



FIFA Ranking:

23



How They Got Here:

Finished second in a European qualifying group (above the Czech Republic and Poland, below Slovakia); beat Russia 2-2 on away goals ina two-leg playoff.



World Cup Pedigree:

1 World Cup ('02) as Slovenia, eliminated in group stage; 8 World Cups ('30, '50, '54, '58, '62, '74, '82, '90) as part of Yugoslavia.

THE PLOT

Can a team that no one knows anything about from a country that no one knows how to find on a map shock the world? And, in the process, prove to their fellow ex-Yugoslavian brethern that the unwrittten rule allowing no more than a handful of Slovenians on the Yugoslavian national team was misguided and wrong?

THE DIRECTOR

Matjaz Kek

Kek is a former defender and his management-style shows it. He's strong on organization and defense, and, as a result, his teams are very difficult to break down. They only allowed four goals in 10 qualifying games. (Only the Netherlands, 2, allowed fewer in Europe.)

LEADING MAN

Bostjan Cesar

The solid and dependable defender makes his money playing for Grenoble in France. He led the relegated French side in yellow cards.

SUPPORTING CAST

Milivoje Novakovic

(forward, Cologne) started all but one of the qualifying games, scoring five goals;

Robert Koren

(midfield, West Brom) is the team's playmaker and will initiate most attacking moves;

Valter Birsa

(midfield/foward Auxerre) was the team's youngest player (23) in qualifying and will probably see the field as a sub when they need a goal;

Miso Brecko

(defender, Cologne) can be defined in one word: solid.

LIKELY BREAKOUT STAR

Rene Krhin

The 20-year-old Inter Milan attacking midfielder was added to the preliminary World Cup roster and is considered the best hope for Slovenia's future.

THE LIKELY VILLAIN

Ceser

Has already vowed to make this World Cup an "unpleasant experience" for England. He has targeted England's Wayne Rooney, who he blames for an injury suffered when playing for West Bromwich Albion.

PRODUCTION NOTES

A tight 4-4-2 that sits back and dares you to get through them. Like Algeria, they will often have only two players looking toward goal.

WHAT THEY'LL WEAR

IT'S SORTA LIKE...

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