Italy is much better than Slovenia right now, this is a fact. I said that we needed to win, but it was obvious that it would be hard.
The reason why Slovenia is so weak in this qualifications is the coach Matjaž Kek and his decisions. I'm not one of those fans who attack the coach after first dissapointment, but we have to accept the facts here. I respect him and I respect what he has done so far. He qualified on WC 2010 and that was an amazing achievement. I don't know if ANY other coach could have done that with the team he had. He built an amazing athmosphere and took the best out of players like Koren, Novaković, Birsa, Brečko etc. He built a team that reached its peak in 2010 but is now getting old and predictable. Also, it seems that the fighting spirit is not the same as it was before. Perhaps this is because most of the players have important roles in their clubs now, while in the previous years (especially in Katanec years) they were usually mostly sitting on the bench and had to show everything on national team matches. For example, yesterday, one of the players who actually fought was Kirm, who doesn't have a spot in first 11 in his club.
Midfield is getting old and is not ready to produce anything. But we do have alternatives which Kek is not using: Bačinović and Iličić. Kek is relying on the guys who brought us the WC 2010 and it looks like he wants to share his destiny with them. He doesn't accept the fact that 2008-10 was the highlight of this generation and significant changes are needed now. There is a new generation coming up with Iličić, Bačinović and Matavž and they have to get a chance. But I'm sure that Kek will be doing what he has been doing until now: put the usual first 11 in the team, play 4-4-2 and don't call anyone from Slovenian league. This worked extremely well for 2 years but now it's getting extremely hard for us to beat even teams like Estonia, let alone Italy or Serbia.
I think that Kek has to stay until 2012 whatever happens now (either it's total defeat or qualification for Euro, he has to go in 2012), then we need a new coach who would be ready to open a way for a new generation of Slovenian players. Kek is IMO the best NT coach so far but he shares the destiny with the generation of WC '10 which is getting older and older.
We were lucky with other results and with all the problems Serbia has had so far, so we are still in the race. We need that win in Belfast and then we need to win both of our matches at home. We certainly can't afford to lose to Serbia if we want that 2nd place.
In Belfast we should play like Maribor has played against Hibernian this summer, but knowing Kek it won't happen.
I think that 2010-12 will be remembered as transitional years for our NT, while from 2012 on the beforementioned 3 players will start a new history.