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Ministerial backing for Slovenia's U17 campaign

Slovenia are being supported in Bulgaria by a small but noisy band of fans, among them the country's former Prime Minister, whose son Oskar Cvjetičanin lines up in defence.

Slovenia defender Oskar Cvjetičanin at the tournament headquarters in Pomorie
Slovenia defender Oskar Cvjetičanin at the tournament headquarters in Pomorie ©Sportsfile

Going by the uproarious scenes that greeted the Slovenia players as they exited Lazur Stadium in Burgas following their Group B meeting with Germany on Saturday, any passers-by might have thought that Igor Benedejčič's charges had just won the competition – rather than falling to a second successive 1-0 reverse.

Making all the hullabaloo were the families and friends of the Slovenia players, a noisy and colourful presence throughout the game, and a cohort that have travelled over 1,500km by road to support their boys at the UEFA European Under-17 Championship. And among their number is one Alenka Bratušek, Slovenia's former Prime Minister, whose son Oskar Cvjetičanin has played all 160 minutes of his side's two group fixtures.

"I can't thank them all enough for coming," said Cvjetičanin, speaking to UEFA.com at the teams' hotel in Pomorie. "My family have always stood by me and showed me all the support I've needed in my football career. When you see your family in the stands it makes playing in a country far from home that much easier."

What has the Southampton FC centre-back, who picked out club-mate José Fonte as his role model, made of the competition thus far? "We've gained good experience in all our matches, but it has shown us that maybe we have another level to step up to," he explained. "That said, we're not out yet: we've still got the chance to win our last game and try to get out of the group."

Oskar Cvjetičanin in action on Saturday
Oskar Cvjetičanin in action on Saturday©Sportsfile

Needing to defeat Belgium by at least three goals on Tuesday, as well as hoping Germany overcome the Czech Republic, Slovenia will attempt to supply plenty of bullets for Jan Mlakar. The ACF Fiorentina striker registered eight goals in six qualifying appearances but is yet to get off the mark in Bulgaria.

"Jan is very important to the team, but all our opponents know that. They have come very well-prepared and made it very hard for him," said Cvjetičanin. "But he has, and we have, one more game left to show our quality, and hopefully we can do that. First of all, we're aiming to win the game. Secondly, we have to score enough goals to give us a chance of qualifying from the group."