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Swift reunion for Slovenia and Northern Ireland

Published: Monday 30 August 2010, 14.45CET
Slovenia striker Milivoje Novakovič said "we know this team very well" as they host Northern Ireland in UEFA EURO 2012 qualification having met twice on the road to the 2010 FIFA World Cup.
Swift reunion for Slovenia and Northern Ireland
Bojan Jokič (left) grapples with Northern Ireland striker Warren Feeney in April 2009 ©Getty Images
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Published: Monday 30 August 2010, 14.45CET

Swift reunion for Slovenia and Northern Ireland

Slovenia striker Milivoje Novakovič said "we know this team very well" as they host Northern Ireland in UEFA EURO 2012 qualification having met twice on the road to the 2010 FIFA World Cup.

Refreshed following their exertions at the 2010 FIFA World Cup, Slovenia return to the fray by kicking off their UEFA EURO 2012 Group C qualification bid against Northern Ireland, whom they met on the road to South Africa.

Team news
• Slovenia coach Matjaž Kek only has injury doubts over defender Marko Šuler as his side prepare for their first competitive match since the FIFA World Cup. Despite the mouth-watering prospect of a derby against Serbia looming, striker Milivoje Novakovič said his side were only thinking about their opening game "Our focus is completely on Northern Ireland, we will think about more the high-profile match in Serbia after Friday," the 31-year-old said. "We know this Irish team very well, as they know us – we were in the same World Cup group. In all honesty, I'd be very happy with four points from the two games meaning we have to beat Northern Ireland."

Slovenia
Goalkeepers:
Samir Handanovič (Udinese Calcio), Aleksander Šeliga (Sparta Rotterdam), Jasmin Handanovič (Empoli FC)
Defenders: Mišo Brečko (1. FC Köln), Marko Šuler (KAA Gent), Matej Mavrič (Kapfenberger SV), Boštjan Cesar (AC Chievo Verona), Bojan Jokič (AC Chievo Verona), Branko Ilič (FC Lokomotiv Moskva), Dejan Kelhar (Cercle Brugge KSV)
Midfielders: Dalibor Stevanovič (Vitesse), Valter Birsa (AJ Auxerre), Andraž Kirm (Wisła Kraków), Josip Iličič (US Città di Palermo), Robert Koren (Hull City AFC), Aleksander Radosavljevič (ADO Den Haag), Armin Bačinovič (US Città di Palermo), Dare Vršič (no club)
Forwards: Milivoje Novakovič (1. FC Köln), Tim Matavž (FC Groningen), Zlatan Ljubijankič (KAA Gent), Zlatko Dedič (VfL Bochum 1848)

• Uncapped Blackpool FC defender Craig Cathcart has been been included in Northern Ireland's squad, with manager Nigel Worthington also calling up Corry Evans – the younger brother of his Manchester United FC team-mate Jonny Evans – and Johnny Gorman after both impressed in recent friendlies. Sunderland AFC left-back George McCartney and Celtic FC winger Niall McGinn both miss out due to injury.

Northern Ireland squad
Goalkeepers:
Maik Taylor (Birmingham City FC), Jonathan Tuffey (Inverness Caledonian Thistle FC), Alan Blayney (Linfield FC)
Defenders: Jonny Evans (Manchester United FC), Stephen Craigan (Motherwell FC), Craig Cathcart (Blackpool FC), Gareth McAuley (Ipswich Town FC), Aaron Hughes (Fulham FC), Chris Baird (Fulham FC)
Midfielders: Grant McCann (Peterborough FC), Chris Brunt (West Bromwich Albion FC), Johnny Gorman (Wolverhampton Wanderers FC), Corry Evans (Manchester United FC), Steve Davis (Rangers FC), Sammy Clingan (Coventry City FC)
Strikers: David Healy (Sunderland AFC), Warren Feeney (Oldham Athletic FC), Kyle Lafferty (Rangers FC), Martin Paterson (Burnley FC), Rory Patterson (Plymouth Argyle FC)

Match background
• Slovenia's record in two games against Northern Ireland reads W1 D0 L1 (W1 D0 L0 at home).

• The two teams met for the first time in a World Cup qualifier in Maribor on 11 October 2008; Matjaž Kek's men beat Nigel Worthington's side 2-0 thanks to two strikes in the space of a minute from Milivoje Novakovič and Zlatan Ljubijankič during the closing stages.

• Revenge of a sort was exacted in Belfast on 1 April the following year as Warren Feeney hit the only goal for the hosts 17 minutes from time.

• The only encounters between club outfits from the respective nations ended with Slovenia's ND Gorica eliminating Linfield FC in the 2006/07 UEFA Champions League first qualifying round, winning 3-1 in Belfast and drawing 2-2 at home.

Last updated: 31/08/10 15.17CET

http://www.uefa.com/uefaeuro/news/newsid=1515808.html#swift+reunion+group+c

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