Slovenia are preparing for their third straight UEFA Futsal EURO finals appearance, with coach Andrej Dobovičnik eager to break their group-stage duck.
Having previously qualified, and lost all three games, in 2003, Slovenia have made both final tournaments since the championship's expansion to 12 teams in 2010 and 2012 – only to depart with a pair of defeats each time. They start their Group C campaign in Antwerp against Italy next Wednesday and with Azerbaijan also to come, Dobovičnik tells UEFA.com that any points would be "a great success".
UEFA.com: What do you think of your group?
Andrej Dobovičnik: Our opponents are – I'll say it like this – a team comparable to ourselves [Azerbaijan] and, of course, the favourites Italy. In a way I am satisfied with the draw. But of course, given the rankings, we are the bottom-placed team so any points we get would be a great success for us.
Italy are absolutely the favourites in our group. It's a neighbouring country so we know their league. I am confident the boys and I will do the best we can and we will try to take our chances.
As with all other national teams, we have scouted Azerbaijan and have some videos of their matches. They are quite a unique team, but like I said we will try to take our chance here and we will try to make our breakthrough, considering that so far we have not posted any points at a European Championship.
UEFA.com: What did it mean to qualify automatically by winning your group ahead of Ukraine?
Dobovičnik: Ukraine, recently, have been slightly less successful, but that certainly doesn't make our result [an 8-3 victory] any less important. We are happy we beat them in Turkey. Our team at the moment consists of very young players, but they've already played a lot of matches and I hope that in the next three of four years they will deliver top performances at a European level.
UEFA.com: Does it feel different now you have qualified for the third time in a row?
Dobovičnik: Every tournament is a story in itself. However, considering we have qualified for a third straight European Championship, we've gained some experience and I hope this will help us in Belgium.
UEFA.com: How much has your success helped Slovenian futsal at all levels?
Dobovičnik: Certainly, the results of the national team are very important for the development of futsal in Slovenia. And right now we have the team we need. So we are making progress, and this is very, very important for the game's development in our country.
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