Following a hard-fought draw against Greece on Wednesday night, the Slovenian men’s football team preserved their unbeaten run in this season’s UEFA Nations League to secure progression into League B of the next edition.
Slovenia produced a poor performance in the inaugural edition of the tournament two years ago, going winless with three draws and three losses in their six group games as they ended bottom of Group C3 behind Norway, Bulgaria and Cyprus.
Due a change in format of the tournament, Slovenia remained in League C in this year’s competition, lining up alongside Greece, Moldova and Kosovo this time around, with the winner of the group securing promotion to League B for the 2022/23 Nations League.
Still smarting over their failed European Championship qualification bid, Slovenia kicked off their Nations League campaign with a goalless draw at home to Greece in September, followed by a narrow 1-0 victory over Moldova three days later.
A 1-0 win over Kosovo and comfortable 4-0 victory over Moldova in October meant the Slovenians led the group heading into the final two fixtures, yet were just two points ahead of equally unbeaten Greece.
After warming up with an uninspiring goalless draw with Azerbaijan in a friendly played at Stožice Stadium last week, Slovenia found themselves a goal down to Kosovo in their penultimate Nations League encounter played on Sunday in Ljubljana, having started the game without influential captain and star goalkeeper Jan Oblak due to injury.
The home side rallied though, drawing level four minutes after conceding as Jasmin Kurtić tapped home his first international goal in over eight years. The game looked to be heading for a draw as the scoreline remained 1-1 at the 90 minute mark, yet draw unfolded in injury time after Kosovo’s Fidan Aliti handled the ball in the box, with Josip Iličić keeping his cool to convert from the spot to hand Slovenia a vital three points.
Greece’s victory over Moldova meant it was all to play for in Athens – a draw or victory for Slovenia guaranteed promotion, but a loss to the hosts meant the Greeks would leapfrog their opponents and win the group.
Oblak was back for the visitors, and he proved instrumental as Slovenia withstood a barrage of attacks from the home side, who had 16 attempts on goal the entire match opposed to Slovenia’s six, enjoying 61% ball possession as the searched for a way through. It was not to be, however, as the Slovenian defence stood firm, shutting out the Greeks as the game ended 0-0, with Slovenia ending as group winners and thus earning promotion to League B in the 2022/23 Nations League competition.
"It's a big reward for the guys who did a good job, they managed to make a team,” said Slovenia’s head coach Matjaž Kek, back in his second spell after leading the national team in their second World Cup campaign in South African 2010. “As a selector, I'm glad we laid the foundation, we introduced some new faces, so congratulations to the team and everyone in the relationship who are in these crazy sometimes we did a great job in organizing all this.
"We reminded Slovenia that football is still here. This is a respectable result, but it is not worth flying. I am satisfied, although it is probably the most difficult month in my coaching career for me.”
Ending the competition with four wins and two draws, Slovenia are now unbeaten in eight matches since their 3-2 Euro 2020 qualifying loss to Poland last year, and sit 62nd in the latest FIFA rankings.
In a clip going viral on social media, Slovenian basketball player Dan Duščak scored an incredible three-pointer from under his own basket as Cedevita Olimpija overcame Borac Čačak in their ABA League encounter on Sunday evening.
Played inside an empty Stožice Hall, Olimpija faced off against Borac looking to bounce back from their first loss in the competition this season in the previous round, where they finished 86-77 losers to Serbia’s Partizan NIS.
Their Serbian rivals on this occasion once again looked up to the challenge, with nothing to split the two sides after the first quarter as the scoreboard remained locked at 25-25.
The home side would shift gear in the second quarter however, pulling ten points ahead at half-time, before increasing their lead to 73-57 by the end of the third quarter.
The final three points in that tally is what had everyone talking however: receiving the ball under the Borac hoop with seconds left to the buzzer, 18-year-old Dan Duščak attempted an audacious shot across the entire length of court which landed perfectly for what will certainly be one of the most memorable three-pointers in the point guard’s career.
Olimpija stepped off the gas in the closing quarter as Borac reduced the gap, but it was not enough to overcome the deficit as the Slovenian side registered their fourth win of the competition, taking the game 97-88 with Jaka Blažič the star performer, contributing 23 points including eight rebounds and four assists.
The two other Slovenian teams involved in the weekend’s ABA League action both registered defeats as Koper Primorska went down 87-66 to Montenegro outfit Mornar, while Krka suffered a narrow 71-70 loss to Serbian side Mega Soccerbet.
The three Slovenian sides form part of the 14 teams making up this season’s ABA League, which includes clubs from Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Montenegro, Serbia and Slovenia, that kicked off last month.
After playing each other home and away, the top four teams in the standings will progress to a three-match semi-final play-off, with the winners facing off in a five-match play-off final.
Just over a month into this season’s competition, the league standings are as follows:
Krka will be in ABA League action again on Thursday, November 19 as they face off against Borac, while Koper are at home to Mega Soccerbet on Saturday. Olimpija will take to the court once again on Sunday when they line up against Bosnia and Herzegovina’s sole representation in the tournament, Igokea.
Slovenian cycling star Primož Roglič of Team Jumbo-Visma claimed his second Vuelta a Españatitle on Sunday after emerging victorious at this year’s Vuelta a Espana, defending the title he won in last year’s edition of the same race.
The 31-year-old had entered the race on the back of a disappointing and gruelling three weeks at the Tour de France, where he lost the leader’s yellow jersey on the last weekend of the world’s most prestigious cycling race to compatriot Tadej Pogačar.
Roglič quickly put that disappointment behind him by claiming victory on Stage 1 of this year’s Vuelta, wearing the iconic red leader’s jersey for 13 of the 18 days of racing.
Closest rival Richard Carapaz from Team Ineos Grenadiers was 10 seconds ahead of the Slovenian heading into the last week of racing, yet Roglič was back in red following Tuesday’s time-trial as he claimed the stage victory by one second, yet more importantly, managed to build a 39-second advantage of the Ecuadorian in second.
Team Jumbo-Visma managed to safely navigate the next three days of relatively flat racing as Roglič preserved, and then extended, his lead, as his second-place finish on Stage 16 came with a time-bonus of six seconds, giving him a 45-second lead on the general classification ahead of Saturday’s final day of racing.
Sticking with his rivals for the majority of Saturday’s mountainous route, Carapaz finally managed to wriggle away from Roglič’s grasp with two kilometres left to climb until the finish line as he sought to make up the 45 seconds over his rival. After Carapaz crossed the finish, all eyes immediately turned to the clock to see how much of an advantage he had built over the Team Jumbo-Visma captain, who crossed the finishing tape 21 seconds later, his 24-second advantage meaning overall victory was all but secured ahead of Sunday’s ceremonial stage into Madrid.
The celebratory and final stage provided no drama for the overall contenders, with a sprint finish seeing Germany’s Pascal Ackermann from Team Bora-Hansgrohe taking the stage victory.
Thus Roglič, who managed an impressive four stage wins over the three weeks of racing, was crowned champion for a second consecutive year, while also defending the green jersey he won last year for the most points.
“It’s beautiful to finish the season like this,” Roglič said after the race. “I always say every victory is beautiful. It’s really hard to win. I’m just super happy that I could win and to finish the season like this.
“It was a special year. I wish everyone a good health. Definitely I would like to thank the organisers. They made it happen, we could still race in November. I want to thank all the riders, specially my teammates. I also received a great support from home, from my family even if they’re not here at the moment. It’s really beautiful to win the red jersey and the green jersey to finish this year. See you next year.”
Carapaz ended as runner-up, his second Vuelta podium finish after winning last year’s Giro d’Italia, while third place when to 26-year British cyclist Hugh Carthy, who ended a Vuelta in the top three for the very first time.
France’s Guillaume Martin (Team Cofidis) claimed the polka dot jersey for the best climber, while Team Movistar’s Enric Mas from Spain claimed the white jersey for the best young rider. The award for the most combative rider went to Team Deceuninck Quick-Step’s French rider Rémi Cavagna while Movistar won the overall team category.
Final General Classification standings
1 Primož Roglič (SLO), Team Jumbo-Visma: 72:46:12
2 Richard Carapaz (ECU), Ineos Grenadiers: 00:00:24
3 Hugh Carthy (GBR), EF Pro Cycling: 00:01:15
4 Daniel Martin (IRL), Israel Start-Up Nation: 00:02:43
5 Enric Mas Nicolau (ESP), Movistar Team: 00:03:36
6 Wout Poels (NED), Bahrain McLaren: 00:07:16
7 David De la Cruz Melgarejo (ESP), UAE Team Emirates: 00:07:35
8 David Gaudu (FRA), Groupama-FDJ: 00:07:45
9 Felix Grossschartner (AUT), Bora-Hansgrohe: 00:08:15
10 Alejandro Valverde (ESP), Movistar Team: 00:09:34
Maribor twice came back from behind against a stubborn Domžale side to record an entertaining 4-3 victory at Ljudski vrt Stadium on Saturday evening, joining Mura and Koper in a three-way tie at the summit of the Prva Liga standings.
Following a midweek 3-1 win over Aluminij, Maribor knew a win over struggling Domžale – who were winless in their last four encounters – would propel them to the top of the table, yet they found themselves a goal down just 11 minutes in as Dario Kolobaric headed the visitors in front, holding onto their 1-0 lead at the break.
Maribor hit back just three minutes into the second half through Rudi Požeg, before doubling their lead just six minutes later following Jan Mlakar’s quick turn and shot on goal.
Domžale refused to give up, equalising through Toni Mujan’s cross-cum-shot before regaining the lead through Sven Karič after Maribor failed to clear away the danger from a corner.
The goalmouth action was far from over as the Purples rallied, levelling matters as the ball fell kindly to Špiro Peričić who applied the finishing touch. And five minutes from time, Maribor completed the comeback as Bla Vrhovec’s defence-splitting pass was tucked away by Aljoša Matko to make it 4-3, sending the home side into rapturous celebrations.
The goal-frenzy, with seven different players registering their names on the scoresheet, ended with Maribor taking maximum points, lifting them to top spot on the log via goal difference.
Joining them at the summit with 19 points from 11 matches is NS Mura, who failed to remain in the outright lead following a disappointing goalless draw with Tabor Sežana, as well as Koper, who made it three victories in a row following a surprise 2-1 victory over Olimpija at Stožice Stadium in Ljubljana.
Elsewhere, defending champions Celje returned to winning ways with a comprehensive 4-0 win over Aluminij to climb up to sixth in the standings, while Gorica and Bravo played out a goalless draw in Saturday’s late game.
Domestic league action takes a break for the next two weeks owing to the FIFA international break, which sees Slovenia host Azerbaijan in a friendly encounter on Wednesday, 11 November ahead of two UEFA Nations League clashes against Kosovo and Greece. Slovenia currently top League C Group 3 with 10 points from their four matches played so far in the competition.
League table: Facebook/ Prva liga Telekom Slovenije
STA, 8 November 2020 - Slovenia's best freediver Alenka Artnik has set another world record, diving to 114 metres in monofin after she and Italy's Alessia Zecchini won the 2019 Freediving World Championships with a record 113 metres last year.
Artnik now improved the record she held with Zecchini by one metre at the Blue Week competition in Egypt's Sharm el Sheik.
Her record-breaking dive, which she labelled the greatest success of her diving career, lasted three minutes and 41 seconds.
"I'm lost for words to describe how I feel, but I'll start with gratitude," she said on social media, thanking her co-divers for accepting her with open hearts as she arrived in Egypt a month ago for preparations for the end of what she said was a difficult season and thus facilitating her record.
STA, 7 November 2020 - Slovenian cyclist Primož Roglič (Jumbo-Visma) is set to win the Vuelta de Espana for a second time as he defended his lead over Ecuadorian Richard Carapaz (Ineos Grenadiers) in the crucial penultimate stage on Saturday from Sequeros to the Covatilla ski resort.
Wearing the leader's jersey before the 17th stage of the race around Spain and having a 45-seconds advantage ahead of Carapaz, the 31-year-old Slovenian managed to keep the lead, although giving away 21 seconds to Carapaz.
Sunday's last stage (124.2 km) in Madrid is a mere formality and Roglič is set to win his second Vuelta de Espana title, after he won the race also last year.
Roglič used the services of his strong team to deflect all attacks by Carapaz and the third-placed Hugh Carthy of the UK (EF Pro Cycling) to earn what is the third win for Slovenian riders in the three-week Grand Tour races.
Last year, he won the Vuelta de Espana and was second at this year's Tour de France, behind his compatriot Tadej Pogačar, to confirm his reputation as one of the best and most versatile riders in the world.
"It's always nice to have an exciting conclusion and this was really exciting. I had enough energy to know that it will be enough if I cycle in my own rhythm. Everything turned out well at the end," Roglič told the press after the race.
He was in a great deal of pain near the end but believed in the ultimate success. "I didn't have everything under control, but in such moments you have to remain calm and do what you can do," he said, also praising his Jumbo-Visma team.
"The team has done a good job once again, given that everybody went with full force right from the beginning of the Vuelta", said the Slovenian, who will also bring to Madrid the green jersey for the best sprinter for the second year in a row.
It was precisely his aggressive racing at the ends of stages that helped him earn the overall win. With four stage wins, exceptional sprints and overall consistency in stages earned him 48 bonus seconds, without which he would have lost to Carapaz.
"I'm very happy with winning the Vuelta. This is really a nice conclusion to the season," added Roglič.
STA, 2 November 2020 - Slovenia's Ana Belac has won the women's Carolina Classic golf tournament to achieve by far the greatest success for Slovenian golf ever and come very close to making it to the world elite in the Ladies Professional Golf Association (LPGA).
The 23-year-old Portorož native finished first at the US$200,000 tournament in the Pinehurst resort near Fayetteville, North Carolina, in what is her first season among professional female golfers.
Belac led at the tournament from start to finish, leaving the closest competitor, Allison Emrey of the US, four shots behind.
With the first title for Slovenian golf at professional tournaments, she has taken the second place in the overall rankings of the Symetra Tour, which is the entry point for the Ladies Professional Golf Association (LPGA).
Belac's result is seen as an exceptional achievement in the Symetra Tour, as this was only her eighth tournament among professionals since she finished her studies at Duke University in April.
After Saturday's win, Belac told the STA that making it to the LPGA Tour was only the first of her career goals, as the final one is to become the best female golfer in the world.
While virtually securing a ticket for the LPGA Tour, where an average prize money for a single tournament is US$2 million, she has also been invited to the US Open championship in Houston in December.
"I wanted to win and I knew I could win. This time I practically played on the home court, on which I have trained a lot with the university, so I was more confident and determined to show what I can do," Belac added.
One of the three Slovenian women with the status of professional golf player, along Katja Pogačar and Pia Babnik, who mostly play in Europe, was not bothered by the strong wind and rain in the last two days of the tournament.
"Other players were complaining over the conditions in which they had to play, while I enjoyed myself and played my game. The experience from Europe, meaning the bora wind around Lipica, where I started my golf career, certainly helped me."
Slovenian cycling sensation Primož Roglič is still on track to defend his Vuelta a Espana title despite giving up the leader’s red jersey following a difficult mountainous stage 12 on Sunday.
The Team Jumbo-Visma captain has been in impressive form so far in Spain, donning the iconic race leader’s jersey on seven of the days raced so far, his three stage wins cementing his favourite tag as he looks to repeat his Grand Tour victory of last year.
Sunday’s Stage 12 route was deemed the toughest of the 2020 Vuelta, and with good reason: the challenging 109.4km route from Pola de Laviana to Alto de L’angliru included five categorised climbs, the last involving a gruelling 23.5% ascent.
Roglič began the day in red, yet had the same overall time as Ecuador’s Richard Carapaz from Team Ineos Grenadiers from whom he had re-taken the red jersey two days prior.
A 20-man breakaway surged ahead in the early stages of the day’s race, yet were given a maximum three-minute lead before being reeled in by the peloton at the foot of the stage’s final climb.
Britain’s Hugh Carthy from Team Ef Pro Cycling, who started the day fourth overall, opened up a gap with 1.2km to the finish, the 26-year-old holding on to claim his first-ever Grand Tour stage victory.
Second-placed Carapaz still had energy in his legs to make a late dash towards the line, breaking away from Roglič as he crossed the finish 10 seconds ahead of his Slovenian rival.
Carapaz will take his narrow 10-second lead at the top into Monday’s rest day before heading into the last week of racing, starting with Tuesday’s 33.7km time-trial – a discipline usually favoured by former ski-jumper Roglič, who still tops the green jersey points rankings, a healthy 43 points ahead of Carapaz.
“It was too hard a climb for a sprinter,” the Slovenian star said after the day’s stage. “I didn’t have the best day but in the end it’s okay. I’m happy with this result and we go on with the time-trial on Tuesday. It will be a hard one. I will do my best and we’ll see how things are after the time-trial.”
Following Tuesday’s individual time-trial, three days of hilly racing follows, before a final mountain stage on Saturday ahead of Sunday’s final flat stage into Madrid.
Vuelta A Espana Leader Board After Stage 12 (Sunday, 1 November):
A quarter of the way into this season’s Prva Liga Telekom Slovenije, Slovenia’s top-flight football league, it’s lesser-fancied Mura who lead the way following Thursday’s 2-0 victory over perennial heavyweights Maribor.
Mura, who are enjoying just their third season in Slovenia’s top league after their founding just eight years ago, may not have controlled the proceedings – with their opponents enjoying 68% possession in the encounter played at the Mestni Stadion Fazanerija – but made their chances count.
Nini Kouter’s powerful header at the near post midway through the first half broke the deadlock, the in-form striker converting Luka Bobičanec’s inch-perfect cross for his fourth goal of the season.
Maribor piled on the pressure in search of an equaliser, but could not break down a stubborn Mura defence, and it would be the hosts themselves who would again find the back of the net. With three minutes left on the clock, goal-scorer Kouter pounced on a loose ball and charged towards the goal, only to be taken down by substitute Amir Dervišević, who received a straight red card for his tackle from behind.
Up stepped Bobičanec to convert the resulting penalty, turning from provider to scorer as his side secured a 2-0 victory, maintaining their two-point lead at the top of the Prva Liga standings.
Breathing down Mura’s neck is last year’s third-place finishers Olimpija, who recorded a comfortable 2-0 victory over Bravo at Stadion Stožice. Both goals resulted from set pieces as Andres Vombergar rose highest to head home a Radivoj Bosić free-kick on 56 minutes, before Miral Samardžić added a second, also via a header, from a corner ten minutes later.
The three points means Olimpija are joint-second on the table alongside Tabor Sežana, who on Wednesday suffered a surprise 2-1 defeat to bottom-of-the-log Gorica. Wednesday’s other fixture saw last season’s champions Celje go down 3-0 to Koper, leaving them in eighth place on the log with just two wins from their nine games played so far.
Screenshot: Prva Liga’s Facebook page
Upcoming fixtures, Round 10:
Monday, 2 November:
Mura - Celje
Aluminij - Maribor
Tuesday, 3 November:
Koper - Tabor Sežana
Gorica - Olympia
Bravo - Domžale postponed due to COVID-19 outbreak near Domžale
STA, 27 October 2020 - Slovenia's star road cyclists Primož Roglič and Tadej Pogačar continue to top the rankings of the Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI), but they have switched places this week, with Pogačar, the recent winner of the Tour de France, becoming no. 1 for the first time.
The 22-year-old Pogačar, who ended the season after a third place at the 4 October classic Liege-Bastogne-Liege that was won by Roglič, has 3,970 points. The 30-year-old Roglič, the Tour runner-up who is currently riding in fourth-place overall as the defending winner of the Vuelta de Espana, has 3,945 points.
Meanwhile, remaining in third place in the UCI rankings is Roglič's Jumbo Vista teammate Wout van Aert from Belgium, who has 2,700 points.
Slovenia also holds the top stop in the country rankings ahead of France and Belgium. The rankings, which add up the points of the top eight riders from each country, give Slovenia 9,479 points, 152 points more than France.
STA, 20 October 2020 - Slovenian cyclist Primož Roglič (Team Jumbo-Visma) won the first stage of the Vuelta a Espana on Tuesday to establish himself as one of the favourites in the race around Spain as he is defending his overall winner title in the same race from last year.
In the 173-kilometre stage from Irun to Eibar, the 30-year-old defeated the closest followers Richard Carapaz of Ecuador and Dan Martin of Ireland to put on the overall leader's red jersey already after the first day.
"It is great to win. I'm very happy. The team has again showed that it is very strong. It has done an excellent job during the entire stage, and I returned the favour with the win. It is a nice way to start the Vuelta," Roglič said.
"It has been a strange season, so I will enjoy the overall leader's jersey from tomorrow on, and the fact that we are able to race here," the Slovenian added after taking over the red jersey for the 12th time in his career.
Slovenia is celebrating a double win today as Jan Tratnik won the 16th stage of the Giro d'Italia between Udine and San Daniele del Friuli to become only the fifth Slovenian ever to win a stage at the prestigious road race around Italy.
This made Slovenia the third country ever with stage wins at the Grand Tour races on the same day. The Giro and the Vuelta used to overlap, and the last time a nation managed the feat before today was in 1978 (Belgium).
This is meanwhile the third stage win ever for Roglič at the Vuelta a Espana, the race he won last year, when he also finished 3rd overall at Giro d'Italia.
Roglič's best achievement this year by far is the 2nd overall place at the Tour de France, the race won by his younger compatriot Tadej Pogačar of UAE Team Emirates.