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Season review: Slovenia

Published: Thursday 12 June 2014, 8.10CET
NK Maribor wrapped up their 12th Slovene First League title with two games to spare, ND Gorica lifted the national cup, and FC Koper midfielder Domen Črnigoj came of age.
by Rok Šinkovc
from Ljubljana
Season review: Slovenia
Gorica striker Massimo Coda was the league second-top scorer ©Getty Images
Published: Thursday 12 June 2014, 8.10CET

Season review: Slovenia

NK Maribor wrapped up their 12th Slovene First League title with two games to spare, ND Gorica lifted the national cup, and FC Koper midfielder Domen Črnigoj came of age.

NK Maribor wrapped up their 12th Slovene First League title, but the path to glory was a little more treacherous this time round with FC Koper pushing them close. 

Champions: NK Maribor
Ante Šimundža's side claimed their fourth straight championship, pipping Koper by eight points with two games to spare. Bosnia and Herzegovina forward Nusmir Fajić played the part of leading protagonist, weighing in with 16 league goals, while veteran goalkeeper Jasmin Handanovič played more minutes (3,060) than any other player. Maribor exceeded expectations in Europe too, reaching the UEFA Europa League round of 32 before a 4-3 aggregate defeat by eventual winners Sevilla FC.

Cup final: ND Gorica 2-0 NK Maribor
Double winners in 2011/12 and 2012/13, Maribor were highly fancied to repeat the feat this season after getting to their fifth consecutive Slovene Cup decider. However, the Violets were rocked by two goals in the last 11 minutes from substitute Francesco Finocchio as Gorica claimed only the third cup crown in their history and their first in 12 years. "The lads were exceptional," said Gorica coach Luigi Apolloni. "They gave even more than usual and showed a lot of heart, playing very well to beat the champions."

European places* 
NK Maribor – UEFA Champions League second qualifying round
ND Gorica – UEFA Europa League second qualifying round
FC Koper – UEFA Europa League first qualifying round
NK Rudar Velenje – UEFA Europa League first qualifying round

*subject to final confirmation from UEFA

Player of the year: Massimo Coda (ND Gorica)
The 25-year-old Italian striker made a huge impression in his debut campaign, combining agility and a goalscoring touch. In total he found the net 18 times, helping Gorica lift the cup and secure a fourth-place finish. Coda is one of 23 Gorica players who are currently on loan from Serie A side Parma FC.

One to watch: Domen Črnigoj (FC Koper)
One of the league's most exciting talents, Črnigoj featured 33 times as Koper landed second spot. "Koper have the best footballing school in Slovenia and that is reflected in the results," the 18-year-old said. "Young players work at the top level here." The midfielder drew praise for his ability to pick out a pass and possesses a lethal right foot.

Surprise package: NK Zavrč
Traditionally a small club hailing from an even smaller community near the Slovenian-Croatian border, Zavrč made light of their underdog status by finishing fifth. Only a loss of form towards the season's close prevented Zavrč, who accounted for Maribor among other big names, from sealing a European berth.

Leading scorer: Mate Eterović, NK Rudar Velenje (19)

Relegated: NK Triglav

Promoted: NK Kalcer Radomlje

Number: 248
The number of saves produced by young NK Krka custodian Matko Obradović, who averaged more than seven stops a match.

Quote
"The quality of NK Maribor lies not only with the players but also in the club structure, management, fans and people who live for the club."
Maribor coach Šimundža after overseeing his team's latest title

Last updated: 12/06/14 11.56CET

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http://www.uefa.com/memberassociations/association=svn/news/newsid=2113487.html#season+review+slovenia

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