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Croatia and Slovenia legends turn out in force for Petrinja

President Aleksander Čeferin joined an all-star cast of former players as Slovenian legends overcame their Croatian counterparts in a charity match in Petrinja this weekend.

Croatia legend Boris Živković is pursed by UEFA president and Slovenia captain Aleksander Čeferin
Croatia legend Boris Živković is pursed by UEFA president and Slovenia captain Aleksander Čeferin

President Aleksander Čeferin joined an all-star cast of former players as Slovenian legends overcame their Croatian counterparts in a charity match in Petrinja this weekend.

President Čeferin had offered UEFA's support in organising the match to Croatian Football Federaton (HNS) president Davor Šuker, having investigated ways to help the Petrinja region following the earthquakes which struck the area, killing seven people in December.

UEFA has donated €50,000 to the Croatian Red Cross
UEFA has donated €50,000 to the Croatian Red Cross

European football's governing body has donated €50,000 to the Croatian Red Cross, with the HNS committing 200,000 Croatian kunas and the Slovenian Football Association (NZS) also donating €5,000 to local club Mladost, whose stadium hosted the fixture on Saturday afternoon.

“When I heard about the tragic earthquake in Petrinja, I spoke over the phone with Davor Šuker, and we began discussing ways in which we can help in this situation," President Čeferin explained.

"[UEFA has] solidarity programme for all our associations when there are national disasters like this one. Football is about solidarity and friendship, which is why we decided to organise this match and why UEFA has made this donation. I’m glad that this charity event has been a success."

Slovenians come back from behind

On the pitch, an entertaining encounter in bright spring sunshine saw Slovenia eventually emerge victorious, despite going behind to a Šuker penalty at the end of the first half.

Slovenia celebrate finding the net
Slovenia celebrate finding the net

The visitors turned the score on its head after the break thanks to goals from Milivoje Novaković and Milenko Aćimović to secure a 2-1 victory.

"It was great and it's good that Slovenia had a few younger players who can run more than Croatian veterans, I think that was decisive," Mr Čeferin joked after the game.

"Today we were served by the sun, we did everything for the spectacle and in the end the least important thing is who won, even if there is no athlete who does not want to win at any time," Šuker added. "I would also like to thank my friends from Slovenia for a good game. I am sorry that there could not have been full stands due to the pandemic, but due to all the circumstances we had to be as correct as possible.

"Football has always shown solidarity, and at the moment when the tragedy in Petrinja happened, President Čeferin and I heard each other and in the first second we decided to come and play the game - thanks to UEFA, the president and the executive committee."

Legends out in force

Both teams line up before the game
Both teams line up before the game

Both line-ups featured a wealth of household names and former international stars, including Croatia's captain for the day, Zvonimir Boban.

"It is a very nice thing that UEFA, with our Slovenian friends and HNS organized something like this to help the earthquake-affected areas," Boban said. "We all sympathise and help, and this is a great gesture and a nice meeting.

"Regardless of the consequences of the earthquake, we must go further, and It's the best thing to show it in football."

Croatia squad: Davor Šuker, Zvonimir Boban, Dario Šimić, Darijo Srna, Aljoša Asanović, Marijan Mrmić, Stipe Pletikosa, Ivica Olić, Petar Krpan, Daniel Šarić, Niko Kranjčar, Igor Bišćan, Boris Živković, Silvio Marić, Mihael Mikić, Nenad Pralija, Tomislav Dujmović, Robert Špehar, Marko Babić, Željko Pavlović.

Slovenia squad: Aleksander Čeferin, Radenko Mijatović, Milenko Aćimović, Boštjan Cesar, Milivoje Novaković, Robert Volk, Primož Gliha, Miran Pavlin, Mišo Brečko, Aleksandar Radosavljević, Goran Barišić, Tomaž Vesel, Silvo Vrhovec, Andrej Vrhovec, Robert Beguš, Tomislav Čizmić, Mladen Džanan, Branko Ilić, Mitja Sojer, Jože Prelogar, Robert Beguš.