STA, 11 October 2019 - After scoring three wins in a row, the Slovenian men's national football team suffered a setback on their way to the final tournament as it lost 1:2 to North Macedonia in Skopje on Thursday evening. They will now have to go for a win against Austria in Ljubljana on Sunday to remain in play.
Three matches to go in Group E of the qualifiers, Slovenia are now tied with North Macedonia at eleven points, trailing Poland (16) and Austria (13), who took care of business yesterday by beating Latvia and Israel, respectively.
Slovenia came to the North Macedonian capital confident they could continue the winning streak but the things proved to be tough in Toše Proeski Arena in front of some 16,500 fans, with the first half ending without goals.
It was Elif Elmas who scored for North Macedonia in the 50th to make things tougher for Slovenia, and the same player converted a nice pass by Arijan Ademi in the 68th minute for what proved to be an insurmountable 2:0 lead for the home team.
Some consolation for Slovenia came in the stoppage time, as they were awarded a penalty kick after a found on Miha Zajc. The veteran attacking midfielder Josip Iličić was precise to set the final score at 1:2.
Slovenia's head coach Matjaž Kek congratulated North Macedonia on "more than a deserved win", adding that Slovenia were "too weak to earn some more."
Turning to what could be a decisive match with Austria on Sunday, he said that "a top quality team is coming to Ljubljana and I hope we will look better than today."
After the match with Austria, there will be a one-month break in the qualifiers before Slovenia play the hapless Latvia (0 points) at home on 16 November and wraps up the campaign three days later in Warsaw against Poland.