STA, 14 October 2019 - Austria delivered what could be a fatal blow to Slovenia's chances to qualify for the UEFA Euro 2020, beating the home team in Stožice Stadium 1:0 on Sunday evening. Slovenia now have only a very slim theoretical chance of making it to the final tournament.
After scoring three wins in a row in Group G, the men's national football team suffered two straight defeats in the September schedule, first losing to North Macedonia in Skopje on Thursday and then to Austria at home yesterday.
Slovenia are now tied with North Macedonia at eleven points, trailing Poland, who have already qualified for the Euro 2020 (19 points) and Austria (16). The latter need only one point from the remaining two matches to qualify.
It was a do-or-die match for Slovenia last evening in the sold-out Stožice Stadium, with more than 15,000 spectators watching, but the guests proved to be a tough opponent right from the start, attacking the Slovenian goal left and right.
It was in the 21st minute when defender Stefan Posch scored a header assisted from a corner kick for the 1:0 lead for Austria, which turned to be the final score of the match.
Slovenia struggled to pose any threat to the Austrian goal for the entire match, and the frustration escalated in the 89th minute, when Denis Popović elbowed an Austrian player in the face to be sent off with a red card.
Slovenia's head coach Matjaž Kek said it was a "hurtful defeat" and congratulated Austria for being "a better team today". He said that it was not that his players lacked aggressiveness and willpower, but the problem was organisation.
Midfielder Miha Zajc said that the team should not look at the standings and should continue to want to win. "We have proved that we can beat everybody ... and we must analyse our game and make improvements, start to win."
Slovenia will have a one-month break in the qualifiers before playing the last-placed Latvia (0 points) at home on 16 November and wrap up the campaign three days later in Warsaw against the group-leading Poland.
Slovenia would have to win both matches and Austria lose to North Macedonia at home and to Latvia on the road for the former to leapfrog the Austrians on the standings and qualify for the final tournament.