World Cup: Slovenia
(Darko Bandic / AP)
Slovenia's players pose before a World Cup qualifying playoff against Russia in 2009 in Slovenia.
Men's ranking: 29
Overall World Cup record: 0-3-0
Coach: Matjaz Kek
Best performance: First round, 2002
Overview: The temptation is to dismiss Slovenia as one of those teams that is just along for the ride. That would be a mistake. Kek's players made it to South Africa by defeating heavily favored Russia, a team coached by Dutch legend Guus Hiddink, in a two-game playoff. Slovenia gained immense self-belief from that success, and the wise will recall that Slovenia also upset eventual champion Italy in qualifying play for the Germany '06 World Cup. -- Grahame L. Jones