Impressive Birsa refusing to get carried away
Friday, March 27, 2015
"There is still a long way to go," said Slovenia's Valter Birsa who refused to get carried away despite his side sitting pretty in second in Group E after a thumping win over San Marino.
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With Friday's 6-0 Group E victory over San Marino, Slovenia posted a new record win in competitive fixtures – and with two assists in a standout display, Valter Birsa more than played his part.
Currently on loan at AC Chievo Verona from AC Milan, the midfielder had featured in all four of his country's previous UEFA EURO 2016 qualifiers and, awarded the 90 minutes in Ljubljana, the 28-year-old fully remunerated coach Srečko Katanec with his showing.
"We knew what was waiting for us. We were in good form and had our chances in the first half already. But in the second things went as planned and we deservedly won big," said Birsa after his side scored five times after the interval.
No longer a youthful prospect, the former AJ Auxerre, Genoa CFC and Torino FC man is delivering mature performances, yet is delighted to see the next generation coming through too. "It is great – the young ones are coming and that is very positive. The more, the better," he said after Petar Stojanovič earned his first cap against San Marino while Andraž Struna, Dejan Lazarevič and Branko Ilič all notched maiden international goals.
Birsa himself has been around the block a few times, earning his 71st cap at the ŠRC Stožice stadium to go joint-seventh on his nation's all-time appearances list. And with Slovenia lying second in their section behind England, he could be adding to that tally at UEFA EURO 2016 in France.
"There is still a long way to go. Against San Marino we got what we wanted. How, when and if we get there [to EURO], we will have to wait and see what happens." The same applies, of course, to the Slovenes' next Group E assignment, at home to England on 14 June. "That is the distant future for us," Birsa cautioned. "First we have jobs to do with our clubs – we'll start thinking about England after that."