Slovenia gave a great account of themselves in only losing their UEFA Futsal EURO 2012 Group B opener 4-2 to Spain on Tuesday and as they prepare to face Ukraine in a game likely to decide who goes through with the holders, coach Andrej Dobovičnik and captain Igor Osredkar are rallying their massed ranks of fans.
Around 2,000 Slovenian supporters made the short trip to Arena Zagreb and a similar following is expected on Thursday against a Ukraine side who know they can book early progress − and oust their opponents − with victory in their first outing of the tournament.
"I really hope that [the Slovenia fans] will come in similar or even larger number on Thursday when we play the decisive match," Dobovičnik told UEFA.com. "
The fans can give the players just that little bit more energy and I believe that together we will celebrate."
Osredkar said: "I am excited about our fans. To come abroad in such numbers is exceptional. We need them even more on Thursday, when they can roar us into the quarter-finals."
As second seeds, Ukraine sat out the opening day and were in the stands to watch their opponents. Coach Gennadiy Lysenchuk led Ukraine to the final back in 2001 and 2003 and his current generation of players are maturing into a similar force having beating EURO contenders Azerbaijan and Turkey last month to win the tough Baku tournament.
"We are in good spirits," Lysenchuk said. "Slovenia have ambitious players who have been playing together for several years and this will be a very good game."
Forward Valeriy Legchanov added: "This is the most important game of the group stage.
We have some very tough games in front of us and right now we can't predict how far we will go."
While Ukraine will be going into the fixture fresh and keen to ensure Saturday's meeting with Spain is merely to decide first place, Slovenia have an intense 40 minutes to get out of their system. Dobovičnik felt his side were undone by Spain's superior fitness but remains upbeat.
"I know that Ukraine are also physically very strong but if we play like [we did] against Spain, we have a real chance for a breakthrough in making the quarter-finals," he said. "However, I expect Ukraine to be slightly weaker than Spain. We will be attacking from the kick-off because only aggressive play can bring us success."
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