Slovenian coach Matjaz Kek spoke with the media in advance of tomorrow's Group C game between Slovenia and the United States.
On the match:
“I am looking forward to this match. I am also looking forward to this challenge that lies ahead of us. I am looking forward to playing with an excellent competitor who last year achieved a lot of successes and has also shown recently that this team is composed of some excellent individuals. This is a squad with its own philosophy and we are mindful of the fact that a daunting challenge lies ahead of us.
On the other hand, we want to point out that Slovenia has not come to the World Cup just because of luck but because of a lot of endeavors we have put in. I don't know why we should stand in awe of anyone. Of course there is respect and we respect our opponents. Tomorrow we won't lose anything, we can only gain by tomorrow’s match. I am really proud of my team because they have taken me to the World Cup.”
On why he is not talking much about the American team more in preparations for this match:
“I don't know what you mean should we be talking more about it in public. No, because we were really focused on my team. This is my philosophy. I want to emphasize my team and my team comes first. However, rest assured that there have been plenty of discussions and plenty of thoughts related to the United States. And we have been dealing with this issue in detail.
But I want to point out that I don't want to deal with my opponent if I can't deal with my team. But we do respect the United States and their performance because it is very mature, but apart form that I don't want to elaborate on this.”
On what they see in the American team and Landon Donovan:
“I have already emphasized that America's quality is a collective approach and responsibility. Physical and mental ability. And you have some individuals that can play a very pivotal role. I don't want to emphasize anyone because it wouldn't be fair. You have referred to Donovan, and yes Donovan is just one of many high quality players that the United States have.”
On how the team feels heading into a match with a chance to clinch the knockout stage; and how the fans feel back at home:
“Just image how we feel. Let's go back a year although I have said that I don't want to talk about history. Last year we were making preparations to play San Marino. Today we are thinking about reaching the knockout stage in our second match so a great step has been taken forward.
Our squad has achieved a great evolution. Slovenia as a nation was applauding us at our first match and I believe it will do the same tomorrow.
This is not the most important match, but it is a great match and this match can solidify Slovenia in the global map of football. I know that Slovenia is the smallest population in this World Cup, but we haven't just come here to be tourists.
We are active participants in this World Cup and I think this is a privilege that we have been given. As I have pointed out just a year back things were completely different.”
Courtesy of US Soccer Communications