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Kek is amazing. He did not let Russia participate in the World Cup and, 14 years later, he is leading the team to history in the European Championship.

Date: July 17, 2024 Time: 16:24:06

Matjaz Kek is the name synonymous with one of the main dramas of Russian football. It was under his leadership that the Slovenian team defeated Russia in the playoffs for the 2010 World Cup. In his homeland, Kek is a true legend. First, he led Slovenia to the World Cup in South Africa and then returned to the honorable position of qualifying for Euro 2024. We are talking about the path of a coach with a meme surname.

Keck’s playing career ended in 1999 in Maribor. It is interesting that Matjaz’s father, Frank, played for the same club. And then Matjaz Kek Jr. played in Maribor. This is continuity. At the end of his playing career, our hero joined Maribor as an assistant (1999-2000). In 2000, Matjaž replaced Boyan Prashnikar for the season in acting status. either. However, in the summer, Maribor was led by Ivo Shusak, who did not find a place in the Keku headquarters. But already in 2001, Prashnikar headed the club again and, first of all, invited Matjaz.

What happened after? That’s right: Prashnikar was fired again and Kek became the head coach (without the interim prefix, he won the championship and the Slovenian Cup). Furthermore, the club took the league gold, having recovered an 11-point gap over Olimpia during the season. But before the start of the 2004/2005 season, the specialist left Maribor on his own initiative. The fact is that in the championship that had just ended the team only obtained third place, so the management did not prevent the resignation.

Matjaz Kek

Photo: Ryan Pierse/Getty Images

Until 2006, Kek rested until he was called up to the Slovenia national under-16 team. And already at the beginning of 2007, Matjaz headed the main team. And he failed in the task of qualifying for Euro 2008: in the qualifying group the Slovenians took the penultimate and sixth places. But the Slovenian Football Federation did not fire Kek, but instead entrusted him with the team in qualifying for the 2010 World Cup. Then one of Matjaz’s main coaching successes occurred. The Slovenians took second place in the group after Slovakia (ahead of, for example, the Czech Republic and Poland) and faced the Russian team. In our country the raffle was received positively. It seemed that the powerful Russian team with Guus Hiddink would easily cope with the opponent.

At Euro 2000, Slovenia participated in the best game of the tournament.

The most incredible match in the history of the Euro Cup. Legendary comeback from the Serbians after 0-3 with ten men!

“In any case, reaching the joints is a success for us. The match against Russia is a unique challenge for all of Slovenian football. We watched the matches with the Russians and were surprised by the performance of their players at Euro 2008. But we have an antidote,” Keck said before the first match in Moscow. Russia won 2:1 thanks to a double by Diniyar Bilyaletdinov. But Nejc Pečnik’s goal in the 87th minute already caused alarm.

Slovenia had a chance before the second leg at home. “Of course, I’m not happy with the final result, but I think it’s better to be hurt than killed. Despite the defeat, we have a chance to qualify for the World Cup. Today we played against a world-class team. It was clearly not easy, but today’s game showed that we can make it to South Africa,” Keck said after the game.

Matjaz Kek in 2009

Photo: RIA Novosti

And the second leg… phantom pain for Russian fans. Russia lost to Slovenia (0-1), losing to Keck’s team in the 2010 World Cup. Although our team had an excellent squad, capable of at least reaching the playoffs. Yes, the match in Maribor was not without a refereeing scandal (Russia expelled Alexander Kerzhakov and Yuri Zhirkov). But that day the Russians seemed weak: it was as if the gray shadow of our players had appeared on the field. But the Slovenians won and did not hide their joy.

Matjaz Kek

head coach of the Slovenian national team

“Today Slovenia has fulfilled a dream. I want to congratulate all my boys, all those who believed in us. This story began when no one thought we could go to South Africa. But this fairy tale has a happy ending. We were able to bring the Russian team to its knees and make our fans happy. Thank you. I can’t say anything about Kerzhakov’s dismissal. Dozens of meters and the backs of the players separated me from the episode. But despite this, I had the clear feeling that the result of the match was legitimate: we were stronger in the first half and we didn’t lose anything after the break.”

Let us remember one of Russia’s most offensive defeats in the 21st century:

Was the Russian team in Maribor “killed” by a judge? The most disappointing loss of the 21st century

Slovenia was in a tough group at the 2010 World Cup along with England, the United States and Algeria. And she did well for a debutant, scoring four points. The Slovenes defeated Algeria (1-0), drew with the United States (2-2), but in the decisive round they lost to England (0-1). And they finished third in the group. Slovenia and Kek deserved praise for the tournament back then.

“In Slovenia we have already become national heroes after qualifying for the World Cup. Think about it, we are the smallest nation represented here. Our population is only 2 million people. Of course, people are happy that we got so many points. I think the game against England did not leave them indifferent. Yes, the English played very well. But even despite this, we were able to achieve a draw. “I still think that England is the favorite for the World Cup and I will support them in this tournament,” said the Slovenian coach.

Slovenia national team in the 2010 World Cup

Photo: Clive Mason/Getty Images

Slovenia rose to 15th place in the FIFA ranking (a record in its history) and Kek, of course, maintained his position. But at the end of October 2011, the Football Federation dismissed Matjaz. The team failed in the task of qualifying for Euro 2012. The Slovenians took fourth place in the qualifying group. Then Estonia surprised everyone, rose to second place and fell into the playoffs. Instead of the Estonians, as the Slovenian football leaders believed, their team should have been there.

Keck then went to Saudi Arabia, before it became commonplace. He took charge of Al-Ittihad, which currently includes Karim Benzema and N’Golo Kante. In December 2011, at Jeddah airport, he was greeted with flowers, but two months later he was fired. Al-Ittihad managed only three wins in 11 games under the Slovenian’s leadership.

And in 2013, Kek managed Croatian side Rijeka. The Slovenian coach’s appointment in Croatia was met with skepticism. But Matjaz changed his mind about himself. In the 2013/2014, 2014/2015 and 2015/2016 seasons Rijeka came second, and in the 2016/2017 season they became champions for the first time in history. “Sometimes miracles happen. Rijeka has been waiting for this for a long time. We dedicate the trophy to everyone who has our team in their hearts. Many suffered for many years, but believed that one day Rijeka would be champions. We had an excellent opponent: Dinamo Zagreb. Believe me, I am the happiest person in the world,” Kek shared his emotions.

Matjaz Kek in Rijeka

Photo: Clive Mason/Getty Images

Rijeka began the 2018/2019 season unsuccessfully, after which Matjaz left the club in October 2018. And already in November a momentous return to the Slovenian national team took place. “It is an extraordinary honor, but at the same time a satisfaction and joy that I have been entrusted with the position of coach of my country. This is a source of pride and great motivation. I’m here to do something good for Slovenian football. The task is to combine all efforts to achieve results. The goal is to qualify for the big tournament. Only by setting a high bar can quality be improved,” Keck reasoned after his appointment.

Former RPL club footballers performing at the Euro Cup. The former CSKA player plays for Slovenia:

More than 20 former RPL heroes will go to Euro 2024! The list is impressive: from Khvicha to Tedesco

They did not qualify for Euro 2020: Slovenia finished fourth in the standings, behind Poland, Austria and North Macedonia. The 2022 World Cup will also be lost. The Slovenians were in the same group with Russia, to whom they lost twice with a score of 1:2. In October 2021, Valery Karpin’s team took a little revenge in Maribor for the defeat of the Russians in the 2010 World Cup. “It is clear that after the match we are very disappointed. Especially considering that at the beginning of the game everything went well for us. I want to congratulate the Russian team,” a frustrated Kek said after the game.

But Slovenia made it to Euro 2024. Keck’s team enjoyed a fun qualifying group with Denmark, Finland and Kazakhstan. It was with the Kazakh team that Slovenia fought in the last round for the direct ticket to the Euro Cup. In Ljubljana, the hosts won (2-1) and Benjamin Verbic scored the winning goal in the 86th minute.

Matjaz Kek

head coach of the Slovenian national team

“The boys gave themselves the best and more than deserved gift. The energy of the stadium, of all of Slovenia… It wasn’t easy, but I’m happy and proud of them! I think Slovenia deservedly qualified for the Euro Cup. The story was long and difficult. But the boys showed character and are different than they were 14 years ago. They returned Slovenia to the fans! “We had a goal and today I felt like we were united.”

In the Euro Cup the Slovenians played two great games. The team was considered an outsider in group C. And Slovenia won and drew twice with Denmark (1-1) and Serbia (1-1). The team was one corner away from victory against the Serbians, but Luka Jovic tied the score in the 90+5 minute. Or they could have scored four points and 99% booked their spot in the playoffs! Now we need a result (at least a draw) in the match with England. Slovenia: an outsider? Yes. But this team will definitely give a serious fight to the British.

Slovenia – Serbia match at Euro 2024

Photo: Shaun Botterill/Getty Images

“We have a fairly young team, but the potential is enormous. There are many players who have come through the youth ranks and are now stable players in the senior team. Jaka Bijol has become a fantastic player, as has Adam Cherin. This suggests that we won’t have to wait another 24 years to qualify for the next big tournament. Even 12 or 13 years will be too much. I am sure that Slovenia will not be a tourist at Euro 2024. We are going to fight. I want the boys to show themselves. And they will fight. Why don’t we think about leaving the group? – noted Keck before the start of the tournament in an interview with the official UEFA website.

Slovenia’s performance confirms the coach’s words. A historic achievement is just one step away.

Designs to leave group C:

Complete qualifying schedule for the Euro 2024 playoffs. Who comes out of third place and against whom?

* This website provides news content gathered from various internet sources. It is crucial to understand that we are not responsible for the accuracy, completeness, or reliability of the information presented Read More

Puck Henry
Puck Henry
Puck Henry is an editor for ePrimefeed covering all types of news.

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