The most surprising development is the absence of Kevin Kampl from the list. It turns out that he notified the Slovenian Football Association last week that he has concluded his national team career.
“I haven’t spoken to him. I regret that he made this decision. For several years, he has proved that he is an exceptional player. I’m still silently hoping that he’ll change his mind and help Slovenia,” said Benedejčič. He added: “I’d like to see players who want to play for the national team. I don’t want to have people setting preconditions. That must end.”
When asked about choosing the captain (Iličić will not play against Norway because of a red card, while Jokić is injured), Benedejčič replied: “If I had to choose the captain, I’d select the player with the most appearances for the national team. I believe that the players should choose him.”
Jan Oblak is absent from the lineup once again. The Association recently explained that it had agreed with him not to call him up in the fall part of the season. Meanwhile, captain Bojan Jokić is recovering from an injury. He has begun to train but has been called up and is expected to come. He will be examined by the medical team, which will decide whether he can take part.
“The guys have worked hard in practice sessions.”
After an absence from October’s two games, Aljaž Struna is returning to the team, as is Rajko Rotman, but Antonio Delamea Mlinar is absent from the list. “Rotman was called up primarily because our midfielders have card trouble. He has experience playing for the national team,” explained Benedejčič, who was notified that he would become the temporary selector late on Thursday.
“I’ve decided to give an opportunity to the guys we’ve worked with for a year. They have worked hard in practice sessions, even though the results don’t bear this out,” he added.
Radosavljević will reinforce the coaching staff
Former national team player Aleksandar Radosavljević will reinforce the coaching staff. Benedejčič has already worked with him as part of the team responsible for junior players. There will be no other changes to the coaching staff.
Slovenia lost the first four Nations League games against Bulgaria, Cyprus, and Norway. The most recent game against Cyprus ended in a 1:1 tie.
Considering changes to the strategy
At 8:45 p.m. on November 16, Slovenia will play Norway in Ljubljana. That will be followed by an 8:45 p.m. game against Bulgaria three days later in Sofia. Both opponents have nine points and are at the top of the group. Slovenia has only a single point and is dead last in the group. In the last two games, the team will try to avoid relegation into the lowest league – League D.
“We have two difficult games ahead of us. Norway and Bulgaria are fighting for first place. We have to give it our best shot to stay in League C. The atmosphere in the team certainly isn’t the best because of the recent results. We have to talk to the players in order to increase their self-confidence and motivation, but we also have to change things on the playing field. We are considering making changes to our strategy, but I’ll leave this until later, when I see all the players,” added the manager.
“We saw a generational shift. Many of the guys have few opportunities to play. I believe that the team needs time. Even when we get a new manager, we’ll have to be patient. We have to come to terms with that, even though we would all like to see plenty of wins. Being a temporary manager is an honor for me. It’s a huge responsibility. What happens after the next two games is up for the leadership to decide,” concluded Benedejčič.