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Sunday, 2 June, 2002, 14:53 GMT 15:53 UK
Katanec hits out at ref
Spain defender Fernando Hierro scores from the penalty spot
Spain were awarded a controversial penalty

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Slovenia Srecko Katanec blamed poor refereeing for his side's 3-1 defeat by Spain.

Slovenia produced a spirited display against Group B favourites and even threatened to stage a dramatic comeback when Sebastjan Cimirotic scored late on.

But Spain earned an 88th-minute spot-kick - which Fernando Hierro converted - after a seemingly soft challenge by Sasa Gajser.

Katanec's side had earlier had two penalty appeals turned down by Moroccan referee Mohamed Guezzaz.

Katanec fumed: "I don't want to speak about the referee from Morocco.

"Apparently, there is a hiearchy in the football world and Slovenia are not more than an exotic appendix.

"But I refuse to make any further comment on this. It's a fact."

Katanec also pointed to a loss of concentration by his players as being a reason for the result.

Open Quote
We have to focus on the two remaining matches against South Africa and Paraguay now
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Slovenia coach Srecko Katanec

He added: "I don't have many reasons to blame my team. I guess they gave their maximum against the mighty Spanish.

"I'm sorry that they lost the necessary concentration at the end of the first half.

"The first goal by Raul was decisive. Spain posses more quality than my team, but they weren't unbeatable today.

"The problem of our team was their physical shape, some of the players simply aren't fit enough.

"We have to focus on the two remaining matches against South Africa and Paraguay now.

"I don't have any aims regarding results. If we give our best, we could even suceed."

Slovenia's disappointing day was compounded when Katanec revealed that defender Marinko Galic could miss the game against South Africa.

"Marinko aggravated his thigh injury at the end of the match and I couldn't replace him," said the Slovenia coach.

"But will have to find an alternative for the match against South Africa."


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 SQUAD PROFILES
GROUP B
  P GD PTS
SPAIN 3 +5 9
PARAGUAY 3 0 4
SOUTH AFRICA 3 0 4
SLOVENIA 3 -5 0




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