Slovenia start League B campaign in UEFA Nations League
Ljubljana, 2 June - The Slovenian men's football team will open their third campaign in the UEFA Nations League against Sweden in Stožice Stadium in Ljubljana on Thursday in what is Slovenia's first appearance in the second-tier League B after two years in League C.
After the opening match in Ljubljana, Slovenia will be hosted by Serbia on 5 June and by Norway on 9 June, and will then host Serbia on 12 June to conclude the first round of play in the Nations League.
The final two matches will come in September, with the first team in Group 4 of League B advancing to the elite League A, and the last team in the four-team group being relegated to the third tier.
Slovenia, who rank 65th in the latest FIFA rankings, will have a tough job in League B, as all three opponents are ranked higher, with the first opponent Sweden being the highest-ranked team in the group, at 19th spot.
Sweden will be without superstar Zlatan Ibrahimović, but will nevertheless be a tough match for Slovenia, so defence anchored by Gregor Sikošek of the national champion Maribor will have to give the full effort.
"The match for the national team is sufficient motivation, and we are playing against an attractive opponent. All matches will be interesting, and I'm personally perhaps most looking forward to the match with Serbia," Sikošek said.
Midfielder Domen Črnigoj said that "all these teams are strong and dangerous", adding that "we must be focused on ourselves and try to win as many points as possible" and that "we will try to stay in this league."
The Slovenian team will play in newly-designed jerseys, for which players hope will bring new energy. "I hope that the new jersey will be more successful in terms of results than the previous one," head coach Matjaž Kek said.
* Slovenia's roster for the opening match with Sweden:
- goalkeepers: Jan Oblak (Atletico), Vid Belec (Salernitana), Igor Vekić (Pacos de Ferreira), Martin Turk (Parma);
- defenders: Miha Mevlja (Alanyaspor), Petar Stojanović (Empoli), Jaka Bijol (CSKA Moscow), Jure Balkovec (Karagümrük), Miha Blažič (Ferencvaros), Martin Milec (Maribor), Žan Karničnik (Ludogorets), Gregor Sikošek (Maribor), David Brekalo (Viking);
- midfielders: Jasmin Kurtić (PAOK), Benjamin Verbič (Legia Warsaw), Miha Zajc (Fenerbahce), Domen Črnigoj (Venezia), Sandi Lovrić (Lugano), Jon Gorenc Stanković (Sturm), Adam Gnezda Čerin (Rijeka), Leo Štulac (Empoli), Timi Max Elšnik (Olimpija), Tomi Horvat (Mura);
- forwards: Andraž Šporar (Middlesbrough), Luka Zahović (Pogon Szczecin), Benjamin Šeško (Salzburg), Blaž Kramer (Zürich), Žan Celar (Lugano).