The biggest challenge before going home – the match with NK Zenit is the last test of preparations in Turkey and represents the basis for further work and improving fitness by 24 February.
The coach’s commentary of the last 90 minutes: "As expected, it was a difficult match against a quality opponent – at first, they let us take the initiative, but they arranged themselves into a block position and punished us from there. After that, our team responded well and they played especially well in the second half. It is evident we have done a lot and in comparison with certain previous matches, the team is playing at a higher level, with a very high morale right up to the final seconds of the match. We scored in the second half, we had opportunities, but we missed two penalty kicks, which is a rarity. On the whole, we have a good opinion of the match, even though we are not happy about the goals obtained and the way the opponent managed to score."
First the football pitch, then the hotel and then to the airport – the preparatory activities on the Turkish coast are over, so what are the lessons the team is taking home?
"For the second time in a row, we have achieved poor results in Turkey, even though we created a good foundation. In the past few days, we managed to improve a number of things, for example receiving the ball, cooperation on the football pitch and the distance between the players. In the last match, we had several conclusions (which we had missed in the interim), so the assessment of the preparatory activities is positive. We have to rest now and then act in the defence phase, as well as concentrate and play better in key moments. At the moment, interruptions are our weak point – we received too many goals. However, I have seen that the team has gained something new with each match. In comparison with NK Zenit, when we have to take into consideration what kind of a club this is, the situation is satisfactory. The break ahead of us will help us to relax and refresh. After that, we are going to perfect the last few details and prepare for more matches and individual opponents."
Some have participated for the first time. How to describe the share of young players and further integration of new players?
"The players have proved their talent, but significant differences can be perceived between the players to whom they are accustomed and the players who they encountered here. I am satisfied with their eagerness, but it is understandable that they will require a lot more work. New players have to get used to our way of working and they are faced with a variety of problems. Ivković managed to eliminate them after a longer absence, Doumbia has problems with his back, whereas Mlakar did not play against NK Zenit due to a minor injury. They need some more time, but they are of course welcome to the team."
"After coming home, the boys will have two days off and we meet again on Tuesday. Here in Turkey we had excellent conditions for work and the weather permitted us to do everything we had envisaged. However, now we have to get used to the cold weather and the conditions awaiting us at home. Our plan is to go to the spa Moravske Toplice again. There we will train until Thursday, and hope for more favourable conditions, so that the local football pitches will allow us to train at home."