Slovenia mourn after dreams crushed

PORT ELIZABETH - Slovenia's coach asked for his players to be given time to mourn after their dreams of qualifying for the second round of the World Cup were crushed by a late U.S. goal in a parallel group match.

Slovenia lost 1-0 to England in their final Group C match, but could have qualified with four points scored in the first two games.

But a last-gasp goal in added time by the United States in their match against Algeria instead placed the Americans on top of the group and England second and kicked out Slovenia.

"Our sportsmen should be left alone for a while because they are experiencing hard moments," coach Matjaz Kek said.

Journalists were waiting fruitlessly to speak with the Slovenians about their defeat following the match.

"I'm really proud of Slovenia and I hope the country will be able to respect our achievements," the coach said.

With a population of just over two million people, Slovenia's is the tournament's smallest nation.

"Our squad has put in a lot of effort and ... will gain from this defeat," Kek said.

Slovenia won their match against Algeria and drew with the United States - not a small achievement for a team which bowed out of the group stage in Euro 2000 and the 2002 World Cup without winning a game.

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