World Cup 2010: Slovenia

World Cup 2010: SLOVENIA

FIFA 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