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[FM20] Niko Rikič, our man in Slovenia: Can he Koper?


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Welcome to Slovenia. Land of mountains and beautiful lakes, where 1 in 20 people keep bees and the capital has a lower population than the city of Coventry.

slovenia_flag.jpg.2f1f7368145db3163d356e0817f3496f.jpg  Slovenia_motto.jpg.beeaceb07e14803f0b21fd5f006e36fc.jpg



1819099341_01_Me_NikoRikic.thumb.png.1c800537ee857aa70b29cc4cbe030652.png  1048611332_IlirskaBistrica.thumb.jpg.093add236f9d905445073a6b0d043d89.jpg

Now meet Niko Rikič, Slovenian born and German raised. Niko was born in the small town of Ilirska Bistrica (above), but moved with his parents to Frankfurt at the age of 12. Niko found his way in to the youth teams of local club Eintracht Frankfurt, but never made a first team appearance for Die Adler. Switching his allegiance to local rivals FSV Frankfurt, Rikič became an important component of the FSV team that bounced between the Regionalliga Süd and the Oberliga Hessen in the mid to late 1990s. A knee injury forced Rikič out of the FSV squad in 2002 and he turned to coaching whilst playing part time for local sides. In 2012, Rikič was offered a return to his homeland and a coaching role at FC Koper. Sadly, it would turn bad for Koper as they were refused a license for the Slovene top division in 2017 and the club entered the football wilderness for a couple of years. Rikič took up the role of assistant manager with local club NK Ankaran but the club was relegated and spent the next season in the second tier of Slovene football. Tragedy struck again as Ankaran was dissolved at the end of the 2018/19 season. That is when the newly reformed FC Koper have approached Rikič to attempt to guide them back to a position as a Slovenian great again.


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Koper is a city located in the Istrian region of Slovenia on the border with Italy. FC Koper were formed in 1920 and have been Slovenian champions three times (twice whilst Slovenia was within Yugoslavia). They play their home matches at Stadium Bonifika in the south of the city; a ground with a capacity of 4,047 that has hosted Slovenian National team friendlies in the past.

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After exile from Slovenian football for two years due to financial reasons, the club returned to the Slovenian Third League in 2018/2019 and won the Western Regional group to qualify for a promotion play off with FC Grad. An 8-0 aggregate win saw the club promoted back to the Slovenian Second League.

The club have now appointed former coach Niko Rikič to guide the club back to the top league at the first attempt. FC Koper are 1-5 favourites to win promotion. It's a lot to Koper with, but can Rikič achieve.


Disclaimers: Yes, that was all made up. Niko Rikič doesn't exist. I just wanted a back story, even if that backstory doesn't exist in the game.

I don't know that the badge I posted is the correct badge either. It's the badge in the badge pack I downloaded for the game and it's the badge on various pages on the internet. I like it more than the badge on Koper's wiki page so I'll go with it. I also can't be hassled with changing the in game badge.


IRL: I managed in Koper once before in FM. I can't remember exactly what year it was, but I enjoyed the save and have always wanted to return. My first save in FM20 was with Bangor City in Wales. Bangor had had a troubled recent past and were back in the game after an absence. That is the same for Koper, so what better time than to return to past glories and hope to bring the same glory to Koper in FM20 as I did in a past FM. I think I won the league a couple of times and the cup a few times.

Also, Bangor are my Welsh team and Koper are my Slovenian team. Bangor is from the real world and Koper from FM, but they both matter.

We'll see how many seasons I can get in before FM21, and whether this save will even delay FM21 for me. I play slow though, so no one should expect 20 seasons plus and a carrer that take sme back to Germany.


Setup: I have the entirety of Europe loaded as well as Australia, the US and Canada. My game has an approximate player count of 371,990. I've had to start the save again since writing most of this because I forgot to apply a few well known edits to the save, but nothing has changed.


Niko is Slovenian first, having chosen his birth place as his first nationality, and German second. He speaks Slovenian and German. Past Playing Experience is local pro. I have him set as a motivator. It is how I like to play. I wanted something more advanced than a no badge and no experience background for this save.



The goal(s) of the save: My goal is to get Koper back to the Slovenian First League and challenge for a title. That's all really. I suppose an ultimate goal would be to manage in Germany as that is Niko's second nationality and where he played in my made up back story. Maybe the goal should be to manage Eintracht; the club that rejected Niko as a youth. Taking FSV Frankfurt to the Bundesliga and to topple Eintracht would be fun.

Hopefully I'll just enjoy this save as much as I enjoyed the Bangor one before the game errors.

Edited by anagain
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 History and Niko's Player Of The Month™ Award

  League Position Pokal Slovenije Player Of The Season Top Scorer
2019/2020 1st Druga Slovenska Nogometna Liga (P) Quarter Final (lost to Olimpija)

Ivica Guberac (Fan's)

Ivica Guberac (Manager's)

Lovre Čirjak, Edil Baša, Ivica Guberac (7 Goals)

2020/2021 2nd Prva Slovenska Nogometna Liga (Qual for Europa Conference League) Second Round (lost to Aluminij) Vid Kobe Bjedov (Manager's) David Flakus Bosilj (9 Goals)


Month 2019/20 2020/21
July Edil Baša Žan Žužek
August Marko Pejić Edil Baša
September Damir Hadžič Damir Hadžič
October Damir Hadžič Jakov Blagaić
November Lovre Čirjak Darko  Marjanovič
December Ivica Guberac Aleksandar Boškoviċ
February Ivica Guberac Moussa Diakité
March Vid Kobe Bjedov David Bosilj
April Damir Hadžič David Bosilj
May Edil Baša Vid Kobe Bjedov





Edited by anagain
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The only Maribor fan in America checking in here. Great intro! Any save based in Slovenia has got my support, so best of luck in getting Koper back to where they belong, as they did irl this year. When the world is normal again I hope you can visit Slovenia, it's a lovely country.

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9 minutes ago, oriole01 said:

The only Maribor fan in America checking in here. Great intro! Any save based in Slovenia has got my support, so best of luck in getting Koper back to where they belong, as they did irl this year. When the world is normal again I hope you can visit Slovenia, it's a lovely country.

Thanks. I had quite the battle with Maribor in the old FM save as Koper. I do remember that from the save.

Looking at the pics I have seen of the country in my research I really should visit.

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FC Koper - Season One - 2019/2020

Meeting The Team

"V redu fantje, jaz sem novi šef. Lepo vas je spoznal."*

Google is a wonderful tool. Unforetunately there's no way to know if the above is right. I do love the Slavic languages though, and Slovenian looks easier to pronounce.


First training session, and the lads are clearly up for it...

I took my first training session on a warm June morning on the pitch where we'd play our games. I got a good response, and I think the players are on my side. It's an experienced squad, and many of the lads have played at Koper before the troubles the club faced.

01_Koper_Hierarchy_Support.thumb.png.0007317dec30a3af784bd97b03a8803b.pngKey to progressing will, I think, be getting Damir Hadzic and Ivica Guberac on side.

Damir Hadzic is a veteran center back who has played at the top level in Slovenia since the early noughties. Being 34 years old has slowed Damir, but he has determination to suceed and will be key this season.

Ivica Guberac is another experienced player that has spent many eyars at the top level of Slovenian football. Ivica plys his trade in central midfield, but I'm thinking about playing him deeper with my first look at the squad. Either way, Ivica's experience and leadership should be key.

35417753_01_DamirHadzic.thumb.png.0dd18517b4321a490d8b0a29e25e7b8a.png  255179635_01_IvicaGuberac.thumb.png.3236e308ca282622011ad3906c454aa9.png

I am debating building the squad around the creative potential of another experienced head in Dare Vrsic. Dare only ever spent one season on loan at Koper before now, but he joins us after a number of years at Maribor. Dare could be key if given the freedom to play his way.

It is just a case of having the right man to finish what Dare can create. Dejan Djermanovic has played at the top level in Slovenia, Bosnia, Bulgaria, Serbia, Kazakhstan, Estonia and Oman. He may not have the best scoring record on paper, but I believe he can shine at Koper.

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Between the sticks we have on loan Ivan Vargic from Lazio in Italy. Ivan is a Croatian that has had an illustrious career in his homeland and that earnt him a move to Serie A. Sadly, Ivan hasn't played much in Italy, and I'm sure he'll be keen to show what he can do at Koper.

From age to youth we come to Luka Badzim. Luca has plenty of potential and this could be his breakout season in central defence.

727587479_01_IvanVargic.thumb.png.7c64de6871c8ea4be88dd9a417c83c5a.png  1628772278_01_LukaBadzim.thumb.png.9a420a8292fb8687c9ed84fafcbfc6f2.png

Playing out wide, and looking strong both defensively and going forward will be Bosnian Darko Misic. Darko has been a leading light in the Bosnian Premijer Liga or the Croatian Prva Liga for a number of years. Time for him to shine in a new country.

And on to our rock in midfield. Zan Zuzek is a man mountain that joins us from Domžale. Zan is a team man, strong in the tackle and good with his distribution. It will be his job to win the ball back.

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The eight above are a good base for the squad, and we'll meet more lads as we progress.

The one position I feel we are short in is the right side of defence. Darko Misic has no real back up. Still, I'm looking at utilising a back three with wing backs and a hard tackling midfield supporting a three man attack. It's ambitious but the following is what I would like to try to achieve. As big favourites in the league it gives us a chance to be creative.


Zuzek and Guberac will be key to win the midfield battles and allow the front three the freedom they need to score our goals. They also need to be a protective wall for our defence. Pejic and Misic will hopefully be bombing forward to provide support to Vrsic, Dodlek and Djermanovic. Pejic is by far by best left sided player, but he is not experienced as a wing back. He has the ability to play that role though.

Real world interject: I have never played a formation like this in all my years of FM. Looks fun though.

I'll try this out in friendlies and see how we do. I have ideas for back ups. There is the good old 4-4-2 option as we have some reasonable wingers and Pejic may end up being more comfortable in an old fashioned full back role. I'm very keen on getting the SS-F9 role to work though. Vrsic is also very accomplished as a F9, so a staple 4-3-3 might work.

I certainly have a lot of options, and pre-season is going to be interesting.

"To bo zabavna vožnja. Naprej in navzgor, NK Koper."*


* The Slovenian is supposed to say "Alright lads, I'm the new boss. Great to meet you all" and then "It is going to be a fun ride. Onwards and upwards, NK Koper". The NK being the Slovenian for Football Club, Nogometni Klub. Look, I'm English, right. We're supposed to think everyone in the world speaks English on our island. I hate that stereotype, hence I try.



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 June to July 2019 - Pre-season & Campaign Kicks Off

Transfers? None.

Well...I turned the first transfer window off. Not really got as much depth as I'd like, but I'm forced to hold on till January.

We played just the five friendly fixtures in a non eventful pre-season. We didn't really impress until we met minnows Jadran in our final friendly. Lovre Čirjak and Edi Baša did their bests to force a starting place in a 7-0 win.


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Slovenian Second League.png

Druga Slovenska Nogometna Liga (Second Slovenian Football League) Kicks Off

We went in to the league season being touted as champions by the press. We are 2-5 favourites, with relegated Gorica evens. Included in the media dream eleven we have Vargić, Badžim, Mišić, Žužek and Vršič. We had to be confident.

We kicked off our season at home to second favourites for the drop, NK Brežice 1919. My proposed formation of three up front in a triangle had fallen by the wayside. What had worked best in pre-season was utilising a lone striker with Vršič playing behind. Inside Forwards on both flanks would add to our fire power. We dominated the game, racking up 69% possession and 29 efforts at goal. Dare Vršič opened the scoring for the season with a lovely looped finish from the edge of the area, but it took until the 84th minute to secure the win, with Baša slotting home from a corner.

Overall a pleasing start that left us joint top.


The last game of July was the Qualifying round of the Pokal Nogometne zveze Slovenije (Slovenian Cup) and we faced 2. Liga counterparts ND Nafta 1903 Lendava at Bonifika. I changed a few players in view of a busy weekend-midweek-weekend schedule. Baša gave a MoM performance of 3 assists in a game which saw center backs Cerovec and Hadžič score their firsts of the season with headers from corners. Those two goals were backed up with a brilliant mazy run and finish from Timotej Dodlek. Dodlek was deputising for Vršič, and that goal surely puts pressure on me with regards to team selection.

The draw has been made and we face 3. Liga club NK Šenčur at Bonifika in the First Round. If we don't progress from that we need shooting.


And that was it for July.


2. Slovenska Nogometna Liga as at 19.30, Sunday 28th July 2019

I would like to finish each month's reporting by naming the player I feel has impressed me most in the month. Niko's Player Of The Month™. For July that award goes to Edi Baša. A hattrick of assists in the cup and his first goal of the season to secure a win in our opener made my task easy.

Coming Next

We kick of August with a tough away tie at second favourites Gorica, before away ties at Radomlje and Dravograd. The month ends as we welcome Fužinar to Bonifika. Sandwiched in between all that is the cup 1st round. Hopefully we're still looking good in a month.

Champions League Thumbs Up GIF by UEFA

Not looking too bad so far. I call that a good start.


IRL Addition: It looks great to add the proper Slovenian accents to my player's names, but it's also a lot of work copying and pasting (I don't have a Slovenian keyboard). You'll have noticed much of the text in game doesn't have the accents. They might slowly disappear from my write up...we'll see.


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August 2019

As I said earlier, August would begin with a trip north to face one of the sides relegated from last season top division. Gorica had started with a tight win in a goal filled contest with Krka and we'd have to be at our best to beat them. We were better. Well, in the second half we were better. In the first half we were truly dire and the boots were flying around the changing room. We were losing to a mid half goal from a rampaging Gorica. Nigerian striker Bede Osuji had been too much for us to handle, but, as some small sign of consolation, it had taken a free kick for them to score.

My half time words must have worked because the performance was vastly better after the break. Dare Vršič was our player of the match. I had chosen to play him in a very free role on the right and his two goals came from him cutting inside to arrive in the box and tuck away crosses. Our third goal was much the same but for the fact it was Lovre Čirjak who finished from the left side.

Two wins from two.


Next up were the team that now topped our league. Radomlje were 5-1 on to win the division and had won 2-0 and 3-0 to start their season. We had some bad news before the game as Dare Vršič suffered a gashed leg. He had been great against Gorica and we would miss him.


We started much better than we had in Gorica and were 2-0 up within just over half an hour. Central defender Cernovec opened the scoring with a headed gome free kick and Čirjak doubled our lead when he turned home a Galešić (below) corner. We shut down a little in the second, and I was annoyed to see us concede late consolation, but we travelled back home with a nice three points from what could have been a tricky game.

012SNLM3Radomlje11819.thumb.png.a00c03c67081aec4422fddf69464de67.png  841488812_01_GoranGalesic.thumb.png.d3c0ba8c4447e97845949a6c1904f007.png

Next up was a break from the league as we welcomed third tier Šenčur to Bonifika in the first round of the cup. I fully expected a win and sent a team out with full attacking intent. Luka Vekić (below) partnered Dejan Djermanović up front with Dodlek behind them in a triangle. We blitzed Šenčur with three goals in the first 24 minutes. Vekić scored his first two goals of the season and Djermanović joined him on the score sheet. The second Vekić goal followed a lovely bit of interchange play between himself and Marko Pejić.

Following the match we drew another third tier team in Adria Miren. Again the match would be at Bonifika. The cup gods were smiling on us considering there were a number of top league teams in the draw. A cup run would be nice.

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A few days later we travelled far to the north of Slovenia to face struggling Dravograd in the hills close to the Austrian border. I reverted back to the back four but kept Dodlek (below) in his shadow striker role behind Vekić. It was Dodlek who opened the scoring after just 11 minutes with a tap in from a Galešić ball across the six yard box. Ivica Guberac then missed a penalty before Cerovec knocked home another goal. That's two in four for the center back. Maybe he should play up front. We didn't score again, and that disappointed me. It had been the same in the cup game, and it concerned me that the squad seemed prone to losing interest. There will be games where that comes back to bite us.

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Before the final game of August rumours started to appear in the press that a takeover was in the works at our club. If it gives us some more money then I see no harm. There would later be claims that nothing was happening. Who knows?


I wasn't going to let takeover rumours distract me from plans for the game against Fužinar the following weekend. Our opponents had had a good start to the campaign and were unbeaten in four games. They hadn't conceded either. We really weren't good enough for the whole ninety minutes, and for the first time I really felt the need to bash my players after the match. Fužinar took the lead midway through the first half and we were failing to match them. I really thought we were going to lose our first game until Lovre Čirjak stepped up to rescue a point with 20 minutes left. Try as we might, we couldn't find a winner.

That was two points lost. No matter how well Fužinar were doing it was a game we should have been winning.


It leaves us joint top of the table but with a superior goal difference. There are two points to third placed Dob.


2. Slovenska Nogometna Liga as at 18.00, Sunday 25th August 2019

Niko's Player Of The Month™ - August

My choice for August is a tough one. We had four good games and there were some good performances. I will give the award to Marko Pejić. The left back has had a good month and leads the squad for assists at this early stage.

Coming Next

September is busy with seven games sceduled. It's a relatively easy start until we face current top five teams Rogaška and Dob at the end of the month. Hopefully we can sweep this little matter of not looking interested in killing games off under a rug. Could do with putting away chances too.

More shooting practice...and buy a rug...

soccer fail GIF

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September 2019

A busy September began with an away trip to slow starters ND Bilje, and after our first dropped points of the season I hoped to see us get back to winning ways. Dare Vršič was the man of the match as he scored two first half goals. The second goal was a thing of beauty as Dare curled the ball in to the net from the corner of the box. We comfortably saw out the match in the second half with Damir Hadžič getting a third, and his first of the season, to secure for us the points.


A week later we travelled to Drava Ptuj in the east of Slovenia. Drava were firmly mid table with an up and down record but their form had improved before our encounter. I still expected a win to continue our good start to the season however. Up front we were poor, or at least our finishing was, and it was Drava who took the lead a quarter of the way in to the match. Winger Nino Zugelj was allowed to ghost in to the box and he headed home a cross to see us one down. I urged the team to improve, but it was not until 78 minutes that we found an equaliser. Ivica Guberac grabbed his first of the season after good work from Djermanović had forced a mistake from the Drava defence. We had nine shots on goal in this game, and that point emphasises just how bad we were at finishing. Lower league Adria were up next int he cup and we'd have to finish better.


Before the Adria game there was more prerss speculation on the rumoured imminent takeover at our club. The club president again rubbished the claims.


I just wish they'd quit it before the players start becoming concerned. They must see the news and wonder.

I told the lads to just concentrate on the cup game with Adria and I kept with my first choices up and down the pitch in an effort to boost confience. WE coasted to a 2-0 lead in the first half, Hadžič and Guberac getting the goals. The second half was best forgotten as the lads clearly switched off. Adria began to press towards the end and I honestly began to worry that we might throw our lead away. I warn the lads regularly regarding complacency but it never seems to sink in. We're in the enxt round of the cup though, and the big boys are going to be much more likely to come out of the hat.


And a big boy really did come out of the hat a week later.


Olimpija are doing well in the top league and the Quarter Final will be a true test of our credentials. I'm looking forward to the match next month.

bring it on disney GIF

Anyway, back to the league, and the small matter of the visit of outside contenders Nafta. I was concerned our performances were waning and I wanted goals from the team. I would be left ver disappointed as whimpered our way to a goalless draw. All the possession was ours and twelve shots on goal to Nafta's none should have seen more results. Losing Dare Vršič to injury late in the game was another blow.


Thankfully Dare's injury didn't prove to be significant and he was in for the visit of Krka six days later. It proved to be another underwhelming performance as we could only go home with a point after a 0-0 draw. Again we had the possession and the chances. Again we failed to convert.


We played again just three days later as we welcomed over performing NK Rogaška Slatina. Steklarji had been predicted to finish close to the bottom but were over performing in fourth when we met at Bonfika. We should still put this team to the sword. In actuality it was a tighter game than I'd expected and it took a Goran Galešić goal to give us the three points and send us back to winning ways. It was still as if we were being stifled in some way though. Of course, if we win the league scoring a goal a game then does it matter? I might have more grey hair by the end of the season though.


Another grey hair inducer in the Rogaška game was the loss through injury of Ivica Guberac and Darko Mišić. Guberac had replaced Mišić at right back and then got injured himself. 

The injury to Mišić proved to be less than a concern and he was available for the top of the table clash with NK Roltek Dob four days later. In what is probably not usual for a top of the table clash, the game would take place in Dob's 287 all-seater stadium just east of Domžale. In fact just 148 fans watched on as a Dejan Djermanović first league goal of the season (finally) secured three points for us. The match had shown that Dob deserved to be challenging for the title as they limited us to just four shots on target. Dob hand none however, and the match will not go down as a classic. I was just glad to see Dejan finally score a league goal, as well as to see us continue unbeaten.

012SNLM12Dob29919.thumb.png.a79d8ca383f4aa29124e8d32379dd144.png  2088312862_01_MarkoMartinaga.thumb.png.e755334108fb09130d56cb56b4ab86d9.png

The Dob game saw Marko Martinaga make his debut for the team. We're not blessed with a lot of depth at right back, but Marko has a reasonable right foot and can fill in there in a pinch. After watching him in U19 games I feel hopeful I can rely on him should the worst come to fall on us.


2. Slovenska Nogometna Liga as at 18.00, Sunday 29th September 2019

Niko's Player Of The Month™ - September 

In a month in which we struggled to score consistently it would be hard to pick an attacking player for my PotM. Dare Vršič was his usual competent self throughout the month but my choice is center back Damir Hadžič. Two of our eight goals for the month is a notbale accomplishment for a defender, but most importantly there was not a match this month in which Damir failed to put in a strong performance (though he missed the Krka game due to bookings).

Coming Next

There are six games in October, including two legs of our Quarter Final with Olimpija. Our league games are all against mid or lower table opposition. Time to score some goals. Surely? My players clearly think they're doing great. I would like more.

bored eric cartman GIF by South Park

"Pridi fantje. Veste, da ste boljši od tega."

Will we see some more goals in October? I bloody well hope so.

goal kicking GIF




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October 2019

Another month done and more progress towards our goals. It was a mixed month that started better than it ended.

First up we faced a home tie with NK Brda, a side sitting mid table, and I expected a win. I'd have loved some goals too, but the first half was as dry as a wall painting demonstration. I wanted more in the second half and urged the lads on. In the 65th minute Rok Pozrl, covering for the injured Guberac, fed Pejić and then met the left back's cross to make it 1-0. It was the first goal of the season for the young midfielder. It was then Pejić himself that doubled our lead with a belter of a free kick from all of 30 yards. It should have been all safe from then on, but we faced a late fight back from Brda after a late, late consolation.

012SNLM13Brda61019.thumb.png.17a666a651c191d018bacb751e7f28fc.png  255259047_01_RokPozrl.thumb.png.684982c2fd34555c96a2707a52ce17af.png

A week later was another home game as we welcomed relegated NK Krško to Bonifika. The Nuclear Boys, named for the town's nuclear power plant, were having a season to forget and were languishing down in 15th when we met. The first half saw us blunt in attack yet again, but we finally found our touch 55 minutes in when Luka Vekić fired home from a tight angle to get just his first league goal of the season. Dare Vršič scored us a second from the penalty spot on 71 minutes after Damir Hadžič had been bundled over. This time we did hang on without conceding to stay top of the pile.


Interlude: Cup Quarter Final

We faced a break from our league challenge midweek as we welcomed top division Olimpija Ljubljiana to Bonifika. The media reckoned ona  tight game, despite our league positions, and I had a belief that we could do well enough to snatch a cheeky first leg win. Luka Vekić was the first half star as he scored his second in two games to give us the lead. It was a moment of penalty box combination between Luka and Timotej Dodlek that found the forward with the freedom to turn and fire home from close range. If we could hang  on we could go in to the away leg with the advantage. We couldn't though. It was a thundering header from Olimpija's front man that put paid to that idea. The game ended 1-1, but I was pleased with our defensive display. We should be heartened by our display against a team running in third in the top division.


After the exertions of the cup, we returned to league action just three days later as we travelled just up the road to face the average NK Dekani. Perhaps the respective histories of the two clubs have been far enough apart to not see this tie as any sort of a derby, but with Dekani just over 5 miles up the road it was a nice short trip considering it would be our second game in four days. We have a small squad and have suffered regular injuries. The result led me to believe that maybe Dekani see this as a derby. Their players were clearly up for a game that mine weren't. We lost Goran Galešić to an early injury and I think that fact disrupted the team. Only Dare Vršič really showed any glimpse of quality in the game and we fell to our first defeat of the season when Dekani's lone front man capitalised on both indecisive goalkeeping and defending to nod home a ball over the top. I let the squad know how displeased I was about the quality of our game and a number of players sat in the seat opposite me for a little chat following the game.


For the final league game of October we travelled much farther east to the small town of Beltinci for a tie we really needed to win now. Beltinci were languishing near the relegation spots. Again we hit a blank though. I gave Kristijan Meštrić his first start in an effort to find more goals, but he never really found his place in the game. More of a concern, however, was the news that followed the match. More on that below.

012SNLM16Beltinci271019.thumb.png.2b0b6d2fbcf00114912b4e040b1e474f.png  16936790_01_KristijanMestric.thumb.png.9ff29ab2fb7470512877111032a2e8eb.png

The news concerned our star man.


Well that hurt, but I couldn't help but understand his thoughts after the injury.


I just wish we had some money to replace Dare. Interestingly, Ivan Vargić is earning a massive £9,750 a week and that wage constitutes 60% of our wage budget. It's left no room in the kitty. The board allowed that just before I arrived, so I take no blame.

At the time of Dare's broken leg we had three others out injured and another two or three coming back from injury. We only have a squad of 22. It never rains but it pours.

When it rains, it pours! – My Tiny Obsessions

Interlude Two: Cup Quarter Final, Part Two

So we would face the return leg with Olimpija without our star man. I had faith in the abilities of the squad though, even if several of the lads need to step up. I went in to the match in the capital with a back three and wing backs. Pozrl dropped back to defensive midfield to give us some security and Guberac returned from injury. The match saw Olimpija dominant but we defended well to limit them to just six shots of target, but Vargić handled them fine. Up top, Luka Vekić had a golden opportunity to win us the tie but he could only find the keeper. 0-0 was the final result. It sees us out of the cup on away goals but gives us confidence for our chances in the top flight...should we make it that far.


If we don't start converting our chances then our goals of winning this league will be harder to achieve. We still find ourselves top by a point at the end of October though.


2. Slovenska Nogometna Liga as at 17.00, Sunday 27th October 2019

Niko's Player Of The Month™ - October

Damir Hadžič has been by far our stand out performer in the month of October and he gets his second award in consecutive months. If only our forwards could match Damir's perfomances.

Coming Next

Just four games in November and then the schedule really slows down until next May. Bottom club Brežice up first before we entertain resergent Gorica. We end the month with games against Radomlje and Fužinar.

I have one thing to say to our forwards:

"Ne bi mogel zadeti vrat hleva. Izboljšajte!"

You couldn't hit a barn door - Picard Wtf | Meme Generator

Yes, Jean-Luc. You noticed too.

You readers might ask why it matters if we're not scoring when we're top. I will answer you by saying you're not the ones sitting watching the four 0-0s and two 1-1s I've had to endure, or seen how many chances we put in to the hands of welcoming goalkeepers. We may aswell hand them the ball...

It's like watching Palace versus Burnley all season...

And now we have to do it all without Dare Vršič.

Shocked Uh Oh GIF




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2 minutes ago, oriole01 said:

Good effort against Olimpija! Also sad to see what happened to Vrsic. As he's a former Maribor guy I feel especially bad that he might retire due to injury. I hope he can pull through.

Thanks. Yeah, I was gutted about Vrsic, and not least because of the lack of players. I might have to take the hit financially, if the board will allow me.

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November 2019

Time to finally put this league to the sword. But first, the news.


The man, the legend. Dare Vršič did indeed chose to retire. Time to shine, Timotej Dodlek.

The bad news doesn't stop there.


Yes, Dejan knackered his knee. He was just returning to fitness after his last injury too. 

What have I inherited?

season 10 episode 20 GIF

How's the football, you ask. Well our poor goalscoring run of late October carried on in spectacular fashion. The start of the month marked the start of repeat fixtures and a visit to the struggling Brežice side that we beat 2-0 in our first league game. What should have been an easy win was anything but. We dominated, of course. How many times have I said that this season? We could only find five shots on goal for all our huff and puff though. In the 28th minute Ivan Jelić Balta tripped his man on the edge of the area, after being easily turned, and Matija Soldo fired home from the spot. It was a pretty woeful performance all around. Much work was required in training.

012SNLM17Brezice31119.thumb.png.17e5ecd92051d05f97c00410c154cd57.png  596454813_01_IvanJelicBalta.thumb.png.050743450bebc3390b3975b15c2ed8f6.png

Next up was probably the last game we wanted. A resurgent Gorica at home. The favourites for the title were in fantastic form, winning their last five games by a combined margin of ten goals to two. We would have to see a return to our very best form to win this game, and we did. I decided upon a few changes to the team for this game and Lovre Čirjak was given a more tradition winger role rather than his inside forward role. I didn't really want to rely on crosses, but I figured Lovre may be more at home as a winger. Lovre became a new man.

On nine minutes, Edi Basa fired a lovely ball across the box and there was Lovre to tuck it home at the back post. In the 25th minute it was all Čirjak as he fired home an edge of the area snapshot to double our lead. Concern reared a few minutes later as Gorica scored a belter through their right back, but this was a day in which the lads would not be beaten. Seven minutes prior to half time Edi Basa turned from provider to scorer, heading home a cross. Who was the provider? None other than Čirjak. Great game, Lovre.


And how do NK Koper follow up a fantastic win against the club that is possibly our toughest challenge? That's right, in sensational throw it away style. A week later we faced Radomlje at Bonifika. The Yellow Warriors were having a strong season and were fifth at the time of our meeting. Truth be told, we didn't play awful. It was our man of the moment, Lovre Čirjak who sent us in at the break 1-0 to the good, latching on to a cross ball that Darko Mišić provided after great play down the right. Of course, we're Koper, and any great play in the first half disappeared in the second. The lads obviously thought the game was done and Radomlje were the much better team. They equalised from the penalty spot after Basa was harshly adjudged to have fouled his man. We probably should have lost, but the lads held on to secure a point. It could have been three.


The Druga Liga is tight this year, and it often feels like every other game we play is against another team in contention for the title. The next of these was away to NK Fužinar after a long trip to the small town of Ravne na Koroškem in the hills of Carinthia in northern Slovenia. We were deemed favourites but I knew it wouldn't be an easy game. We made tough work of things but in the end Fužinar failed to have a shot on target. Our defence was incredible and we took the points home due to a first ever Koper goal from young Kristijan Meštrić. Kristijan had replaced the blank firing Luka Vekić in the second half and repaid my faith in him with a simple tap in after great work from Pejić down the left.

I actually think this 1-0 win was one of our best results of the season. Fužinar had a lot of good possession in the second half and really tested us. Our goal was possibly undeserved, but they do say good champions win when they don't play their best.


That great result leaves us three points clear after Dob were beaten 2-0. Gorica are a further three points back. We have only conceded nine goals this season. I guess that is something to be proud of.


2. Slovenska Nogometna Liga as at 17.00, Sunday 24th November 2019

The bottom three are becoming detached, so I guess that at least means we won't go down! It is still an incredibly tight league above that. 13th is only 18 points behind us.

Niko's Player Of The Month™ - November

Who else can take home this award for November but Lovre Čirjak. Three goals marks a marvelous turnaround in form for Lovre.

Coming Next

Just eleven games left and only two in December. A lengthy winter break follows games against Bilje and Dravograd. That will be time to find a replacement for Dare, and maybe one other signing to force our season over the line. It all depends on the board. Our finances aren't great. I honestly do contemplate returning our high earning keeper to Lazio and going forward with his back up, Igor Nenezić. I am sure he is good enough to play between the sticks. He is on a lot less wages and would give us a good amount to improve the team as well as the finances. It might be the clever thing to do, but is it the right thing to do?

1950172003_01_IgorNenezic.thumb.png.0bcf5424fc2a0ec96672e43430df46ae.png  OR  1585829855_01_IvanVargic.thumb.png.4194f9f959011867d3a16fd671835578.png?

£9.75k in free wages or not?


Courtesy of the Cheaply-Made Slovenian Meme Co.

"Šef, zakaj ste se strinjali z £9,75t funtov za enega igralca? Ivan ali Igor?"

I really didn't know how to do the money in Slovenian...



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December 2019

So, as I said, just the two matches this month. Then we're off for a long winter break. Christmas with the family, potica and a roast pork lunch. Traditional in Slovenia, apparently.
But first, two games of football. First up are mid table Bilje, a team on a good run of three unbeaten at the time we met. They had recently announced the arrival of a new manager and it appeared to have changed their fortunes. The press were raving about the abilities of Edi Basa before the match, so I went with the formation that had been serving us well enough for the past few matches. Hopefully Basa will continue to show good form.

We started dire. The first half was a game to forget with the lads looking lazy and disinterested. At half time we went in at 0-0 and I had many words to say to the team. There was no zest about our play and I wanted to see more. I especially wanted more form the midfield whom were showing no signs of any creative aspect to their game. It'd be fair to say the lads got a rollicking. Their answer was a much better performance in the second half, but we still struggled to find the net. Basa and Čirjak were terrible and were replaced midway through the half, but still a goal wouldn't come. With 15 minutes left I took a gamble. Dodlek came off to be replaced by Kristijan Meštrić. This meant a change of formation and a trial of the classic 4-4-2. You might just say the gamble paid off. Meštrić found the ball out wide and drove at the Bilje left back before playing a short pass to Vekić. Vekić's shot hit the defender and the rebound landed on the left boot of Meštrić. One touch to his right, a jig around the defender, a cut back on to his right foot and a low drive at the goal. GOAL!

And that is how the game ended. The question for later would be whether it was the tactics change or just a lovely bit of play from Kristijan. Bilje will be gutted with the result, but I was delighted to steal three points.


Seven days later we welcome lowly Dravograd to Bonifika for a game we really should be winning. After our late finish at Bilje I made a decision to start with the same 4-4-2, with Kristijan and Luka up front together. The resulting display put all the questions on to me. Why had I stuck with one striker formations all season? The stars of the show were Galešić, Guberac and Vekić. Galešić opened the scoring after just six minutes, firing home a Mišić cross for the edge of the box. In the 23rd minute it was two, courtesy of Luka Vekić, and the same man put us 3-0 up seven minutes later. The second half was all Ivica Guberac. The midfielder was given a more advanced role in our new 4-4-2 and scored the luckiest goal from a free kick near the half way line. The ball bounced in front of the Dravograd keeper and he totally misjudged the bounce. On 64 minutes Ivica scored from the penalty spot to make it 5-0. The koper fans wer chanting "Želimo jih šest. Želimo jih šest", but we couldn't add to the scoreline.

Nevertheless, it was by far our biggest win of the season. I'm still not sure if I am a tactical genius. Let's wait and see how we do after the winter break.


And with that result we come to the nine week winter break. The table looks much better from our point of view.


2. Slovenska Nogometna Liga as at 19.00, Sunday 8th December 2019

Niko's Player Of The Month™ - December

December's award goes to Ivica Guberac. It was close, but Guberac was one of the few to play well against Bilje and he then put in a tremendous performance against Dravograd.

Coming Next

I will let the players have a break, but serious training for the conclusion of the season starts in January, after the Christmas break. The transfer window reopens mid-January and closes mid-February. I'm still in two minds regarding our keeper situation. I understand the finances are not great, so maybe we should return Vargić to Lazio. Could we sign him permanently if we're promoted? Perhaps we can do just as well elsewhere, and get a younger keeper.

Kyle Broflovski Shrug GIF by South Park 

I'll try to be back in January for an early transfer window update. After, of course, "Vesel Božič!" "Potica in kuhano vino".


Damn, I could be half Slovenian. Maybe I get carried away, but it's interesting looking at traditions from other countries. Learning while I FM. What could be better?


Whatever update SI did to this forum has made images bigger. That's nice.


I should just add the following that came up a few days after the Dravograd game. Our youth intake is generating optimism. Let's hope so.



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Winter Transfer Window

It was a mixed window. I feel like I have improved the squad and bettered some ailing finances. My main goal, come February was to replace/cover those on their way out. I have a policy that if someone wants to leave then so be it, but don't expect to see out your time on the park too much. Call it sour grapes, if you like.

The Outs

Right at the start of the window I decided that the best thing to do was to send Ivan Vargić back to Lazio. There was just no reason to keep those sort of wages at the club with our now ten point lead over third. Ivan has done what he came him to do. I have every faith that Igor Nenezić can keep the same sort of clean sheets that Ivan did.

I sold no one. There was certainly interest, but it was interest in players that were coming to the end of their terms. I tried to combat the contract offers, but I just couldn't match what my stars were being offered elsewhere. I believe I will face a battle to keep my star players at all times here. The sooner we can get in to European competition and make a bit of money the better.

On their ways from the club are Darko Mišić, Goran Galešić and Luka Vekić. Mišić is returning home to Bosnia as he joins FK Tuzla City in the Bosnia Premijer Liga. This is probably the exit I am most disappointed by as Darko has been great.

Goran Galešić is headed to Fermana in Serie C. Fermana are pushing for promotion to Series B, so should they get that then Gorna has a good future ahead of himself. I couldn't match the £800 a week he'd been offered.

I tried to keep Luka Vekić at the club but he is off to Sambenedettese in July. Considering Luka's age this is a harsh one to take.

The Ins

It's not been perfect, but I've done the best I could. Wages were the real issue at hand, and the fact we had £77k to spend was moot when most clubs wanted well over that for their unwanted talent. I have eyes on a few players for the transisition from Druga Liga to Prva Liga...should we not completely throw our position away.

First in is a Malian who has played in Armenia, Romania and Spain after he left his homeland. Moussa Diakité is a tough tackling and aggressive midfield option that boosts our numbers for the run in. I believe that he can go on to be a useful option in the Prva Liga too.


Next up we have a young Slovenian center back by the name of Aleksandar Bošković. Aleksandar has dual nationality with Croatia and has been released by Mura. I snapped him up despite competition and I hope he can have a bright future at Bonifika.


And on to deadline day and I managed to secure three more signings, two of them on loan for the remainder of the season. First, the free signing, and Vid Kobe Bjedov had been out of ciontract since leaving Tretja Liga Brinje last year. Vid is a young right winger with a good cross in his bag of tricks and joins after doing well in a short trial. He will be covering for the departing Galešić, and may well get good game time due to my preference.


And finally we have two loan signings to bolster numbers and give me a more comfortable run in. Injuries have really hindered us and it was a nightmare to manage with a very small squad. Matic Fink is a 29 year old full back who joins on loan from Prva Liga Domžale. Matic is transfer listed and hopefully, should he perform well, I can bag him on a free at the end of the season. Matic is also dual footed and can cover right or left back. He can be an option on the wing or in midfield at a push too.


And finally we have a very promising young Croatian on loan from Hajduk Split. Jakov Blagaić is a right footed attacking option that is possibly best played in a link up role up front or attacking direct from the right. I may well try him in Luka Vekić's role and see if he can't either tee Mestrić up for some goals or bag a few himself. There are no directions on how I play Jakov.


And now we are £9k under our wage budget. If the reports that our balance is something like £300k in the red are true then that wage budget useage could be very beneficial.

Coming Next

And we are back to the action. We had a nice couple of wins in winter break friendlies; beating Mantova 4-1 before we thrashed Prva Liga relegation threatened Bravo 5-2. In a day we welcome Drava to Bonifika before we travel to meet Nafta in the Hungarian border town of Lendava.

Hopefully were are still in a rosy position come the end of the month. With seven more games after that, it is unlikely we will be guaranteed promotion, but you never know. We could be all but mathematically there.

Back To Work GIF by memecandy


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February 2022

With the team back to the grind all attention was focused on the visit of NK Drava. Drava were sitting firmly mid table but they ahd an eye on the top spots. It would not be a simple matter of going out for the win, that was for sure. As I've said, my general policy is to phase players that have decided they will leave out of the team. I bought the likes of Fink and Bjedov in to the squad because I believed they were good enough, so they'd play. Fink was at right back and Bjedov was on the right win. Blagaić also came in to the squad and I ghave him a role whereby he would be expected to play advanced yet track back to link midfield with attack. Diakité would have to be paitient for now, but he was on the bench.

As if to scupper my beliefs, it was the players on their way out that came on to change the match. We were well and truly on the front foot for most of the game, but we just couldn't find the target. The story of our season really. Things took a turn for the worse with just over 20 minutes left as Drava swung a free kick in to the box and their right winger was free at the far post to turn the ball home. Čirjak was not having his best game on the left and he came off to be replaced by Miŝić; with Fink moving to left back and Pejić moving further forward. It was a Misič cross that Ivica Guberac met with his head to power us level on 78 minutes. Four minutes later Blagaić put a lovely ball to the back post that Pejić was there to side foot home.

We'd made it hard for ourselves, but the win was ours.


What annoyed me after the game was when I checked out the day's results to see that both Dob and Gorica had won their games with winners in the 93rd minutes. You couldn't make it up.

A week later was the even tougher trip east to face contenders Nafta in Lendava. We were even more firmly in control for this game seeing ten shots hit the target and getting sixteen corners. It took until the 91st minute to win the game however. Damir Hadžič was bundled over in the box and Guberac stepped up to win us the game. It was as much as we deserved.


Dob and Gorica both one later in the day, and that left things pretty much as they had been for a few months now.


2. Slovenska Nogometna Liga as at 19.00, Sunday 23rd February 2020

Niko's Player Of The Month™ - February 2020

February's award has to be a second in a row monthly tip of the hat to Ivica Guberac. Our stalwart midfielder has been given a much more attacking role in the past few games and he has shown his goalscoring abilities. He helped turn the Drava game around and then scored the penalty to win us three points in Lendava. Ivica is now our joint top scorer.

Coming Next

To start this section it is something that is not so much a case of coming next but a case of what happened next. Sadly it was another case of injury hitting us in the arse and hurting. New signing, Moussa Diakité, suffered a fractured jaw in training and has headed off to see a specialist. Moussa has started well, so he'll be missed for the next month.


Just two games in March. A visit to Rogaška Slatina to face NK Rogaška is followed by us welcoming Krka to Bonifika. There is a nice big gap in the month's fixtures so I'll look to arrange some friendlies to keep the team focused. I have no idea why the schedule is so patchy. Has someone forgotten to tell me of a secret cup in the latter half of the season?

Anyway, both the teams we meet are knocking on the door of the promotion places, so we'll have to be right at our best to secure six points.

The pressure never ends in management. Of course, kanarčki bodo korakali naprej!

Pressure GIF by memecandy


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March 2020

What follows is an account of by far the most embarassing month of my Koper career. I have no answers for the dreadful performances we put in in front of goal. I take some blame for going out against Rogaška with a wing back formation that clearly wasn't producing the goods. The idea was to be more compact against a tough team.

Igor Nenezić possibly showed what I was missing without Vargić when he conceded an early own goal against Rogaška. A second for the home side later in the first half really put us on the back foot. We were seriously lacking in front of goal throughout the game, and it took us until the 72nd minute to get on the score sheet; Dodlek getting his second of the season. We couldn't find the equaliser and the lads got a serious blasting at full time. That was far from good enough.

What made the game even harder to take was the aggressive nature with which Rogaška played. Djermanović returned from injury in this game but was scythed down a number of times late in the game. After the third foul he had to go off and is now out for another three to four weeks with a back injury. Not one Rogaška player received a yellow and I told the press exactly what i thought of the Rogaška aggression. Their manager chose not to respond. Consider Damijan Romih on the dartboard.


Next up were Krka at Bonifika and we had to win. Dob passed us before the match as they kicked off earlier, so a win became paramount. We started badly, the only player showing any ability being Bjedov. Right before half time as the Krka wide man skinned Fink and our left back could only bring his man down. Krka scored from the spot and we were a goal down again. I really laid in to the team at the break. The finishing was bad, the playmaking was bad and our defence was bad.

To give them credit, things improved a little in the second half. Guberac was better, as was Mišiĉ. Bjedov continued to play okay, and he was our greatest threat. There was some good interplay between our new wide man and Mišiĉ, and it could have been fruitful had Darko been able to get his crosses in to the box. When we did find the box we either missed the target or their keeper was in the way. Long story short, we failed to find the net and lost the game. It was our first home defeat of the season.

I was furious, and the players knew it. Guberac told the press as much after the game.


I wanted to say more to the team, but all I coul do was glare and call a few players to me to discuss performances. Shooting practice is in the bag.

The worst thing is it's now a five point lead over Dob thrown away. We had it in the bag.


2. Slovenska Nogometna Liga as at 17.00, Sunday 22nd March 2020


Niko's Player Of The Month™ - March 2020

Well, this is a hard task. How does one choose a player of the month after two defeats from two. Even though I am tempted to say no one, I will give the arward to Vid Kobe Bjedov. He was the only one to put in a decent performance across the two games.

Coming Next

At the end of the month I have a rranged a friendly with a local side. We have a week off so I figured it was a good idea to use a friendly as shooting practice. Why he have so struggled to score all season is beyond me. The forwards I have should be more than capable of 20 a season. My priority in the summer will be a striker.

Just the two games again in April. We face the currently 10th placed Brda on the 19th, butthe game of the month must be the home tie with Dob at the start of the month. Never has there been a more must win game.

Game On GIF by memecandy

I'm off to cry. 



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April 2020

happy season 3 GIF

March seems to have been just a blip. Maybe it was the friendly we won 5-0 at the end of March. Maybe it was my chat to the lads. All I know is that against Dob we shone.

I had butterflies bigger than mothzilla before the game, but the lads went out and played a truly fantastic game of football. In the friendly, Baša had scored a great brace and so he started up front against Dob. He had a great game too, netting our first right before half time. We had been dominant up to that point, not giving Dob a sniff. Twenty minutes in to the second half it was 2-0, as Luka Badzim converted from the penalty spot. With Luka being our center back I was a little concerned when I saw him confidently step up to the ball, but he put his penalty away with applomb.

It was concerning that we let Dob back in to the game after the second goal, and they equalised with their own soft penalty four minutes before the end. We held on though, and secured a great turn about to go back to the top of the table.


The press started their title countdown after the match. With three games to go it was a three-way battle for the title.


Dob would kick off the next round of matches before everyone else, and all eyes were on the Sportni Park in Dob on the Friday evening.


That result gave us a boost of confidence as we travelled to the Brda game. Brda play in a tiny stadium in a tiny village close to the Italian border. It was a strange place to be playing a key game in a race for promotion to a big league. However, the lads were clearly up for it as we went out on the front foot to find ourselves 2-0 up after just 17 minutes. Bjedov scored his first for Koper to kick things off before Lovre Čirjak scored a lovely second. Lovre then broke his wrist after a horrid ta ckle in the second half, so that was a dampener. What was also a dampener was the way we really came off the boil after going 2-0 up. It didn't do my nerves any good that we couldn't get a third goal, but we travelled home with three points in the bag and are now back to four points clear at the top.



2. Slovenska Nogometna Liga as at 18.00, Sunday 19th April 2020

Niko's Player Of The Month™ - March 2020

Two good wins makes my choice much harder than it had been in March, but after much deliberation the award goes to Damir Hadžič for two very assured defensive displays that barely gave Dob or Brda a look in.

Coming Next

Gorica lost in their game so they are out of the running now. It's a two game battle between ourselves and Dob. With our four point gap all we need is a win and the title is ours. In the final three games we play bottom placed Krško at their place then Dekani and Beltinci at home. Surely we can get three points.

Just a reminder last time we played Dekani and Beltinci we came away with one point. Being at home will make the difference, surely?

Looking Around Star Trek GIF

EDIT: it occurred to me overnight that I was wrong when I said we only needed 3 points to secure the title. If Dob won their game that would still leave us 4 ahead with 6 points remaining. It is a long time since I did Maths at school, okay. 

Edited by anagain
I'm no maths genius...
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May 2020 - Druga Liga Concludes

And so we come to the end of my first season in Slovenia. Let's not give anything away just yet. After my momentous maths related boob of earlier I realised it would be more than just three points needed from any one the three easier games. Notice I said that in italics. They wouldn't be easy.

I'll try to keep the tension, but we got off to a fantastic start against almost relegated Krško is the first game on May. We went out o the blocks all guns blazing in a game which, at the time, I thought we just needed a win from. 13 minutes in and Ivica Guberac picked up a lose ball from a corner. Turning inside he layed the ball off for Marko Pejić to lash home. Marko was playing more advanced, but it was a still a good return of a third goal of the season for the natural full back. Another 13 minjtes later and we made it 2-0, Ivica Guberac with a cracking first time volley after brilliant work by Darko Mišić down the right. We shall miss the departing Darko.

For once, we continued our great play in the second half of a game, although Krško did come in to the reckoning a little. Jakov Blagaić scored his first Koper goal in the 57th minute when he was first to a Darko Mišić free kick. Edi Baša was having a frustrating game up to now. He had three shots saved and one hit the post and had made himself a nuisance to deal with in the box. Edi finally hit the target in the 88th minute when he turned hom Luka Badzim's saved header from a corner.

A great 4-0 win and the perfect start to the final run in.


And how did Dob get on, I hear you asking.


Yes, just a point at home to lowly Dravograd. That meant something fantastic. It seems I was right after all.


We didn't make the back page of the Slovenske novice, but we got a report in the sports pages. However, the Primorske novice in Koper ran a full page insert on our success. I was proudly featured on the local televison station, TV Koper Capodistria. The paper ran with the headline Koper spet na vrhu. Not too snappy, I know.

It seems Koper is actually rather billingual, a fact I failed to pick up on when I started this. The official languages are 50% Slovenian and Italian (being so close to Trieste) and the local TV, radio and papers have a lot of Italian content. FM2020: a tool for learning.

We'd won the league on sorting rules. We were champions due to the fact that we had beaten Dob home and away. They could only tie with us after drawing their game, and should things end level on points then the winner would be decided by results rather than goal difference. We could lsoe to Dekani and Beltinci if we liked. I'd rather not.

We had lost to Dekani in tie at their place and I wanted revenge. I think the title win had gone to the player's heads though. We put in our most dreadful performance of the season when our little neighbours visited us. It's too haunting to go in to major details, but we got stuffed. Was it hangovers, perhaps? We gave up after the second Dekani goal. Edi Baša had gotten us back in to a game we didn't deserve to be in in the 51st minute, but that was the best of it. It is perhaps surprising that Dekani would finish well off the pace. I guess they just wanted to get one over on their local celebs.


Whatever the reason for the Dekani defeat, I aggressively told the lads that I wanted a much better performance against Beltinci in our last game. Dob had lost again whilst we were losing to Dekani, so we still had our four point gap. Dob, on the other hand, were in danger of throwing away their second place. They had to win their last match. Rogaška and Gorica could overtake the Blues to qualify for the promotion play off.

Following my assertive team talk the lads were spurred on to a domiant performance against Beltinci. We were never in danger against a team that could have been relegated after the game. Braces from Baša and Pejić along with an own goal gave us a comfortable 5-1 win. Only at the start of the second half had we switched off an allowed Beltinci a goal. The lads pleasingly sorted out their own complacency though. A great way to end the season.


Dob sneaked in to their play off spot with a 0-0 draw at Bilje, whilst Gorica managed to somewhat ressurect their season after storming to a 4-0 win at Brežice to finish third. They had already deposed of one manager during the season, but his replacement was likely safe.


2. Slovenska Nogometna Liga as at 19.00, Saturday 16th May 2020

So, champions by 8 points in the end in a season that saw Brežice relegated to the third tier and Krško face a double relegation. Brežice had been second favourites for the drop, but Krško had been tipped for mid table safety. Their fans are likely to be in shock. I am afraid to say I do not know enough about Slovenian football to know if anythign dire face Krško to see this double drop happen. Dob go in to a play off tie with Rudar Velenje to see who we face in the Prva Liga next season. More on that later.

Some Transfer News

Matic Fink agreed to join us permanently during May and will join in July. In less favourable news, the improved performances of Edi Baša (Edi finished joint top scorer alongside Guberac and Čirjak in the end) resulted in his agent demanding an improved contract for his client. Edi therefore wanted £500 per week. I wasn't willing to agree to demands like that and I may well be looking for a replacement. As well as Edi did in the final games, I do think we can get better for the Prva Liga. I'll see if he's willing to negotiate before he leaves. Igor Nenezić will aslo be leaving as he announced his retirement after the final game. I will be looking for a new first choice keeper.

Niko's Player Of The Month™ - May 2020

For his five goals in the final two months that asserted our title hopes I am giving the final month's award to Edi Baša. Not one of the goals were great, but every team needs a man who can bully his way on to the end of any lose ball to turn it in to the net. Edi does that beautifully. I think all five goals were from no more than three yards.

Niko's Player Of The Season™ - 2019/2020 Druga Liga

There will be announcements of fan's player of the season and other awards later, but I felt it just to have my own choice as well. Drumroll please.

season 2 GIF

Niko's Player Of The Season goes to the wonderful Ivica Guberac. Ivica was monumental throughout. Seven goals, four assists, seventy key passes. Our club captain really was Captain Marvel.


Coming Next

And now we look forward to our first season back at the top. How will we do? If we can match our performances in the cup against Olimpija then I thinkw e wille asily be safe in mid table. It very much depends on the transfer window. I don't have much more in wages sadly, and I have just £77k in transfer funds, but hopefully I can gather in some stars to helps us thrive in the league above.

In The real world, Koper are lower mid table after the first few games of their own season. They have a pretty mixed season so far, but granted they have only played five or six games.

It's going to be a wild ride.

GIF by britbox

Edited by anagain
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End Of Season Awards and Stats - 2019/2020

A quick recap of the awards handed out at the Koper end of season party.

First the season stats, but bear in mind Ivan Vargić and Dare Vršič, having both left the club, are not included. It is five appearances for a medal so only Primoz, our back up keeper misses out.


And the awards. A mention for Dare Vršič who also finished on four player of the match awards. Had we had a fulls eason of Dare then who knows what he could have achieved. He is now cheif scout at Gorica. His scouting ability does not match his playing ability.


The Slovenian FA annoucned their Druga Liga team of the season too. It was heavily in our favour.


And I was personally blessed with an award of my own.


Ivica Guberac was quoted as being delighted with my award, so thank you Ivica. My midfield maestro also picked up third in the Druga Liga player of the season awards.

Prva Liga 2020/2021 Early Preview

I'll go into this in more detail later, but as an early look at next season I was given my duties regarding the club in a meeting with the board. They are aiming for a top half finish. It's more than I really expected, but it can be achievable. We will be playing Dob home an away again. They beat Rudar Velenje 2-1 in the 1.SNL/2.SNL Play Off. I was having a close look at their left winger, but I guess that deal might be off the table now.

Next year's Prva Liga will contain champions Maribor, Olimpija Ljubljjana, Triglav Kranj, Aluminij Kidricevo, Celje, Domžale, Mura Murska Sobota, Bravo Ljubljana, Koper and Dob.


I realise I never covered our youth intake. We did have one, it just wasn't thrilling. The new youngsters have been pulling big punches in the Slovenian Youth setup since joining, but I don't think there will be anyone knocking on the door of the first team. I may do a quick run down later.

Back for pre-season, transfers and a preview. I'm looking forward to this Prva Liga challenge. Need players though, so transfers are going to be key. I have some targets, so finger's crossed it works out. Replacing Mišič will be key, but a new goalkeeper is maybe the biggest need.


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2 minutes ago, Lodi Lemmer said:

This is an enjoyable read. Best wishes in the higher league. I hope you find a suitable replacement for Misic.

Thank you. I was gutted when he chose to leave. It is incredible how attached you can get to players in a team in a video game. 😁

Glad you are enjoying it. 

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Pre-Season 2020/2021

The Slovenian FA need to make their scheduling better communicated. My lads came back to training late June. It then wasn't for a few days before the league fixtures came out and the horrifying news that the season kicked off in less than two weeks. Maybe it is my fault for not being prepared. There was some hastily organised friendlies though.

I really didn't expect such a quick turn around. I know we have a long winter break, but that was a shock. I do have this habit of not being prepared in FM. We had a good week of pre-season though. Week, haha!

Prva Liga Mini-Preview

When the FA announced the fixtures we were handed an opening day fixture at NK Aluminij Kidričevo before welcoming Olimpija to Bonifika for our first home game a week later. The Olimpija game will also be our first televised match in the Prva Liga.

Our first game against league favourites Maribor is at the end of August and we face our fellow promoted side Dob at the start of August.

We start and finish away as we end the season at Domžale just a week after we face Maribor in our fourth meeting - we play each team twice both home and away in a ten team league. That's not the ideal finish, but hopefully we are safe by then.

The media have Maribor favourites for the title, and their players fill the media dream eleven (the purple). It is nice to see Luka Badzim in there, but I'm not sure how to feel about us being predicted 8th. That would be safety, but not fullfilling of the board's wishes.

02_PrvaLiga_2021_odds_PS.png.ca88f4e386e729c1525c56df1e17ff9d.png  02_PrvaLiga_2021_mediaDreamEleven.png.6a2bc11c18b96e5e8b3c669de3ccd71c.png

As a bit of a teaser here is the quad we have submitted for the season. Yep, some new names. Please keep reading.


Early Transfer Window

Didn't have to read far, did you? I'm pleased to announce we have so far lost no one important, well other than the three that were leaving.

I started early and got my new keeper in in late June. Darko Marjanović joins us for £20k from Gorica. Perhaps I feel a little better about Darko than some of my coaching and scouting team, but I like a keeper that is good at organising his defence, and Darko has that ability in abundance.


Our current back up keeper a is a name I might not have fully explored last season. Primož Bužan is a young keeper with a decent future ahead of him, but whether he could carry the team on this season might be a bit much to ask. He was the one squad member not to get a medal last season.


Matevž Ribič is a young keeper that came in in last season's youth intake. As it stands he is currently third choice keeper. I am looking at a young lad on trial though. I'll do a mini youth overview in a bit.

You'll notice two other names on the squad image that haven't been seen before. Their no new signings but two youngsters that were on a non-terminable loan last season. Lucas Vranjes is a center back/right back that has already gone on loan to Drava in the Druga Liga. I need him to impress really.


Rene Solaja is a right winger that had some good games in our pre-season friendlies. I am not sure he'll surpass our other right sided players this season though and I am looking for a loan deal that I can terminate.


Matic Fink made his transfer from Domžale permanent at the start of July and then came the first our new incomings a couple of days later. Jakov Blagaić rejoined on loan from Hadjuk for the entire season this time. I am really glad to have Jakov back, and I think he can play an important role either up front or on the right. Jakov is the second reason for which Solaja will probably get a loan deal. Images below, but smaller for memories sake only. I love the new image tools on these forums now. Can change the size better.

1896789570_01_MaticFink.png.a28dcb61a14e9f4af41c637ab85e4971.png  1420831524_01_JakovBlagaic.png.1b3142e294834f6eaf3fbfd690a32b06.png

There a few deals in the works, but they won't happen before the first game at Aluminij, and I wanted that to be a fresh entry. More on that later.

In the greater world of Prva Liga transfers Maribor have been the biggest spenders. They have been spending that European money on new players and brought in David Brekalo from Bravo for £250k. I wish I could spend that. From our region, Marcelo Brozovic of Inter has headed to Manchester United for £72m. I suspect I'll never have that money.

The Brekalo move does make me think we are way behind Maribor. In regards to money and quality we have some work to do. My scouts obviously don't know those players perfectly.

Brekalo.png.a6d7993dfdd2b0dda287958fb2148af5.png  Brozovic.png.4bcf5f6ee5bffd9f91129ede92ad557b.png

Mini-Youth Overview

I finally got around to it. I've being seeing these lads about for months now. It's just not the creme de la creme of youth intakes, but we might have some hope for some. U19s results definitely picked up when the new lads arrived. They thrashed my U19 side - complete with a number of first teamers - 7-1, beat Domžale U19s 4-1 in the Youth Cup and rose to mid table in their youth league with a good final run.

A chief talent, and a surprisingly goalscorer, is Stanislav Kovač (I'm guessing at these accents. There are two different ones on a small c, but I have no idea why it's either. Looks cool though). Stanislav is a center back and is improving well already.

Also at center back we have Luka Kus. Luka has been a little disappointing in training though and I may have to have some impact here. I see a bit more ability at left back or a midfielder to be honest.

1704461859_02_StanislavKovac.png.f500efdb185fcd227c5864cbf93104bf.png  105350210_02_LukaKus.png.28c5a239f7e28a7a9d3688df2d47f739.png

In a natural left back role we have Jon Vidiċ. Jon's mental stats have improved and I just need a little more work from him regarding his technical progression.

The young lad that has been banging in the goals for the U19s is Matija Javornik. He scored six in ten at the end of the last season for the U19s.

434611288_02_JonVidic.png.6d565fc94a96a28b9643d65a5afa0215.png  1791397955_02_MatijaJavornik.png.e793fec9f6c7eecace098398dddc3e72.png

And here is the keeper, Ribič.

The last player that might do well is midfielder Blaz Kosnik. That mainly evens up the image postings though. As I said, it is mediocre.

1633579622_02_MatevzRibic.png.07f49b9225650dc133ed3745974410eb.png  985001702_02_BlazKosnik.png.bad3ab64c8a85b47e844c0f7da6b8609.png

Coming Next

And so on to the start of the Prva Liga 2020/2021. As I write this it is July 10th and we are travelling to Kidričevo. Where can we finish? I'd like to say mid table, but we need new faces to start coming in. As I said there are bids. I had some very big targets that proved expensive, and one of them may well be on his way. I just better not win the cup, but more on that later.

Let's get started!


Start GIF by memecandy


*That should say Up The Koper In All Departments. :confused:





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2020/2021 Prva Liga Kicks Off


...and we're under way in Slovenia.

But, first. Transfer news, and two new faces arrived at Bonfika prior to the kick off at Aluminij.

First up was the arrival of a youngster for the future. Dario Strah is a left sided full back who joins us for £1k from Tretje Liga side Bistrica Slovenska. Dario is 20 years old and may have to wait for his chance, but get it right in training and I can see big things for him.


Joining the morning of the Aluminij game, and travelling by himself to Kidričevo, is Matic Črnic. Matic is an experienced advanced left sided player who has played at a number of clubs in the top divisions of both Slovenia and Croatia as well as representing Slovenia twice. Matic was available for free after being let go by Olimpija. It might be best we don't win the cup or qualify for Europe, or Matic is due a lot of money. The things we managers do to entice a star to our clubs.


And now back to the action. We find ourselves in Kidričevo, in the east of Slovenia, for our big kick off against Aluminij. And what a disaster it was.

I decided to send the lads out with a deeper 4-3-3. I wasn't sure what we'd face in this division, so Žužek sat back and Diakité came in to midfield. Čirjak was out wide left, Blagaić wide right and the nod of the hat up front when to Dejan Djermanovič after the better performances in pre-season. We just never really got going and found ourselves on the back foot throughout. Čirjak was woeful and he was replaced by Črnic mid way through the second half. Even Ivica Guberac, normally mister reliable, failed to find the rhythm.

The match ended 3-0 to Šumari (The Foresters - Kidričevo is in a pretty forested area) and we went home having been shown just how tough the Prva Liga is. It was double a shock as we turned up to a tiny ground that held just 600 fans. That certainly gave me a little pause for thought.

There were words after the game.


Midweek saw more transfer action and the departing of one of the lads. Marko Pejić was great last season and he was rewarded with a move that gives him perhaps a better shot at success. He has moved to Hungarian OTP Bank Liga side Kisvárda FC and a chance to play in Europe. It put £100k in our bank, a fact sure to delight the board. Rene Solaja also leaves and joins Lucas Vranjes on loan at Drava.

One new face came in by the name of Matija Kavčič on loan from Gorica. Gorica wanted more than I was really able to pay for Matija, but presumably because of their failure to secure promotion he was keen to leave. That allowed me to take him on loan for the season and it will be wonderful if he decides his future is at Bonifika. Matija is an attacking left full back and completes my left side.

Now really this deal surprised me and I am wondering if this was bugginess at work. Gorica wanted over £100k for Kavčič, but they would let him leave on loan. They didn't want any wages and they didn't want a fee. I felt that was broken and only took advantage of it because I knew another club would if I didn't. I chose to offer 100% wages to feel less like I was exploiting. He didn't even list as unhappy, so I have no idea why he was allowed out on loan for nothing. I bugged it.

Matija could turn out to be a very good player.


Next up was our first TV game in the Prva Liga, and our first game at home. We welcomed Olimpija, the team we had narrowly lost to in last year's cup. We had a number of chances in the game but failed miserably to turn them home. Guberac got even worse in this game and he was replaced by Diakité but the goals wouldn't come. At the other end I teamed up experience with youth in the partnership of Hadzič and Badzim and it resulted in a strong defensive display that limited Olimpija to just one shot on goal to see the match end 0-0. Our first point of the season, but the lack of goals worries me.


We would travel to Celje in a week but not before another signing and the departure of two youngsters out on loan. Rok Pucko is a young left midfielder whom I felt would be best served playing first team football. He heads to Tretje Liga side Svoboda. Also heading to the Tretje Liga is young defender Jon Vidič. He will be playing at Podvinci this season.

Jan Andrejašič is another player released by Olimpija this summer. Jan is a 24 year old dual sided full back and impressed me on trial. He will fight it out with Matic Fink for the right back slot, but can easily cover left back. Jan could also play further forward if needed.


And on to the Celje game. This was one of the most infuriatingly frustrating games I have been involved in. We made life easy for Celje with far too many mistakes and showed far too much aggression throughout. The resultant bookings gave us trouble and saw Vin Kobe Bjedov sent off in the 67th minute. I had warned Vin twice about his aggression so this annoyed me no end. I had words with him after the game but he denied any wrong doing. He is a talented lad but is red blooded.

With regards to the football, we dominated possession but struggled to convert that in to efforts on goal. We went a goal down in the 24th minute when Žan Žužek failed to deal with a corner ball to allow the Celje center back to head home. The lads didn't lose heart, but when Bjedov got his marching orders the game changed. Blagaić moved to the right and this upped his performance massively. in the 81st minute we earnt a free kick wide right. Guberac swung a dangerous ball on to the head of Bošković, but he could only head straight at the Celje keeper. However, the ball ran lose and there was Matic Črnic to turn in his first Koper goal with a sliding finish. Yeah, it changed for us.

We should have held on to a point but for another missed header. The culprit this time was Bošković as he missed a cross and it landed in the path of the wide open Dario Vizinger to hand Celje a sneaky win. We had done so well to get back in to the game with 10 men too.


That was the last league game of the month and the early table showed us far from where we wanted to be.


Telekom Slovenje Prva Slovenska Nogometna Liga as at 19.30, Sunday 26th July 2020

You know what comes next, don't you? "Another new face?" You ask. Yes. Medin Bajrami was released by Maribor and joins us after a successful trial period. he is a center back that is likely more for the future. He would make his debut at the weekend in the cup.


The weekend saw us travel east to Ravne na Koroškem to face NK Fužinar in the qualifying round of the Pokal Slovenije. As I said, it was Bajrami's debut as well as a debut for Jan Andrejašič in the seond half. We played much better, the only disappointment being the performance of Edi Baša. Goals from Djermanović, Blagaić and Žužek gave us a solid 3-0 win. Hopefully this result gives us some confidence.


The draw had already been made, and we meet Tretje Liga side NK Simer Šampion Celje in the First Round. Hopefully we won't be as desperate for the goals then.

Niko's Player Of The Month™ - July 2020

So who wins my first Player Of The Month award of the season? The answer is decisively Žan Žužek. He was the one player to be consistent in our four games of July, and he scored his first Koper goal in the cup tie.

Coming Next

August sees the Prve Liga get very busy with five games. There is also the cup game squeezed in to the middle of the month. Hopefully come September I can be looking at the table a little more pleased. Certainly our first match of the month, at home to Dob, gives us a chance to get things really going.

We must do better.

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August 2020

After our cup exploits it was back to league action and a hope of better than we managed in July. Up first were Dob at Bonifika. Dob had started well so this would be by no means an easy game. The game started very even, but it was ourselves who broke the deadlock after 28 minutes. Edi Baša was the scorer - his first of the campaign - meeting a Žužek cross with a firm header. No sooner had we taken the lead, though, had we lost it. A long ball over the top, shortly after Dob had kicked off, outfoxed Matija Kavčič, and Luka Gajič slotted past Marjanovič.

I had words from the touchline after that quick turn around and it had the desired effect. Matic Črnic burst in to the box only to be fouled and Djermanović slotted home his first league goal of the season from the spot. We had taken the lead, lost the lead and then re-taken the lead all within five minutes. The second half was not even close to the enjoyable first half. We shut up shop a little to keep Dob stifled. On 63 minutes Črnic scored to make the game safe, and we held out well to nab our first win of the campaign.


Bravo Ljubljana were next a week later. The capital's second club were having a poor start to the season and they proved an easy conquest mainly thanks to Edi Baŝa's sublime first half hattrick. Edi destroyed the Bravo defence as he burst on to glorious quick balls to run in on goal score three lovely goals. The second half was a very different matter as we caved to Bravo pressure and I honestly thought we could throw a three goal lead away. Bravo pulled one back, but somehow we held on to get our second win.


Pokal Slovenije First Round

With us now seemingly scoring for fun, I was looking forward to our next game against the minnows NK Simer Šampion Celje. It turned out to be more of the same from us really. We dominated the first half and lead 4-0 at half time. Bjedov had a been brilliant, destroying the Šampion defence to score two, and he was backed up by goals from Boskovic and Andrejašič. The game petered out a little in the second half, but Moussa Diakité did get his first Koper goal to hand us a 5-0 win.


The draw for round two happened a few days later and gave us an away tie at Aluminij, the club that had whooped us 3-0 in our first game of the campaign. I'm not too worried if we lose.

After three home games in a row it was back to travelling a few days later as we faced Triglav in Kranj. We were woeful and lost to a goal in either half. There's not too much else I can really say about this game, so we'll move on.


Our next time was back home. Interestingly, we hadn't lost at home and hadn't won away. We hadn't even gained a point away. Mura had started disastrously and we were at home so I was counting on three points. We did indeed dominate the game and two goals, both shortly before half time, won us the game. Edi Baša and Guberac, from the spot, were the scorers. That was Edi's fifth goal of the month. Mura really did look poor and it's not looking good for Murasi.


Last up in August was our biggest test yet. An away trip to Maribor. Vijolicasti had spent big in the transfer window, bringing in players to the sum of £1.3m. I decided to shake things up. Our 4-4-2 was not working away from home, so i switched to a back three and wing backs. That meant a three in midfield that I hoped would give us more solidity.

It worked how I'd hoped it would work and we managed to hold Maribor to a 0-0 draw to claim our first away point of the season. Luka Badžim returned from injury to take up the right side of our back three, and both he and Damir Hadžić were fantastic. Truth be told though, neither side were convincing up front and this wing back formation's downside may be a lack of punch. I'll take a point at Maribor though.


That made for a much better month, and we find ourselves firmly midtable with 11 points from 24. We are well clear of Bravo and Mura though.


Telekom Slovenje Prva Slovenska Nogometna Liga as at 17.00, Sunday 30th August 2020

Niko's Player Of The Month™ - August 2020

With five goals in August this month's award can only go to Edi Baša. Edi is not really even a natural striker, but he's doing a pretty good impression of one. Hopefully he can keep it going. I have my fingers crossed for him.

Coming Next

Just five games in October and two of them are against Aluminij within five days of each other, one in the Prva Liga and the other in the Pokal. We also have our first meeting with Domžale and second meetings with Olimpija and Celje. To be honest, I will happily keep losing or drawing away if we can win at home. Can the new wing back formation give us the edge to get in to Europe though?

With things just about a quarter of the way through we have to be content with where we're at. Just have to keep it up.

Schitts Creek Thumbs Up GIF by CBC


I hope the images are working. I've been having trouble adding images for this post. I ended up using imgur rather than my usual adding of attachments. Whether there is something up with the server, because uploading is up and down.

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September 2020

Well, that was quite the month, and it ended in crazy fashion. I'll get to the end of the month soon enough, but we start with a home league game against Aluminij.

Aluminij are having a good season and had already whooped us 3-0. This would be the first of two games against Šumari in a week. First the league game at Bonifika and then we travel to Kidričevo for the second round of the pokal. We started okay, but the first half was a tight affair until right before half time. Bjedov was outfoxed on the right by Aljiaz Ploj and the Aluminij left back was allowed a free shot at goal. We would have to come from behind in the second half.

And we did. Truth be told, we were fantastic after the break, and especially Jakov Blagaić. It was Jakov who got our equaliser as he ran late on to a Baša cross to head home on 56 minutes. Ivica Guberac was also back to his best in this game, and it was he who scored what turned out to be the winner with 11 minutes to go. It was a blinder of a free kick that the keeper could only handle futily, the power taking the ball past him and in to the net. Dejan Marjanovič had his best game by far for us, and it was a great save from our number one that ensured we held on for a great three points.


Pokal Slovenije Second Round

The pokal game against Aluminij wasn't as great as we went down 2-1 in Kidričevo. Matija Kavčič got our goal in what was by a long way his best match in a Koper shirt. It was merely a consolation though. I know it is a standard response, but the league is our priority. We need to stay in the Prva Liga.


The games were coming thick and fast in September and it was a welcome to former champions Domžale to Bonifika. We are battling furiously with Ravbarji in mid table and I really wanted to win this. We had great home form, so why not maintain that? We had 14 attempts in the match but it took a cheeky sidefoot from a corner by Luka Badžim to win us the game just before half time. It was a great defensive display by Luka and Damir Hadžić that won us the game really, as they allowed Domžale hardly a sniff.


We had a massive four days before our next game in Ljubljana against league leaders Olimpija. We were short in midfield, with Žužek missing due to yellows picked up, and I decided to try Matic Črnic in central midfield despite the press suggesting he didn't fit there. Matic has been suffering from some nerves and I didn't want to drop him. It was a lacklustre performance all round though and we lost the game to a first half Olimpija goal. We just had no cutting edge, and so our poor away form continued.

At that point in time we still hadn't lost at home, but we hadn't won away. Goals for away equals one. Goals conceded away equals eight. As long as we win at home, I suppose.



Koprčani watching their team away from Bonifika.

To end the month of September we welcomed Celje to Bonifika for another mid table clash. It is topsy-turvy in mid table and we wanted a win to take us back above the Rumeno-modri. Nothing is ever easy in the Prva Liga though, and the match started about as bad as one could imagine. I did say above that the end of September was spectacular and this match deserves more attention in the form of a minute by minute run down.

2 minutes - Vid Kobe Bjedov is given his marching orders for a horrendous double footed challenge in the center of the park. Blagaić has to move to the right wing and we're playing one up front for the remainder.

6 minutes - It gets much worse for Koper as Božić is allowed all the space in the world to head home a cross. Koper 0 - Celje 1.

13 minutes - Damir Hadžić rises well at the back post to send Koper level from a corner. Koper 1- Celje 1.

41 minutes - Disaster before half time as more poor marking leaves Benedičič free to slot home a free kick for Celje. Koper 1 - Celje 2.

59 minutes - Luka Badžim rises well to power home another goal from a corner to send Koper level again. Koper 2 - Celje 2.

61 minutes - Two minutes later and Celje are ahead again. It is dreadful defending yet again to allow Božić his second. Koper 2 - Celje 3.

69 minutes - Things get even worse for Koper. Kavčič gives the ball away on the left and Lotrič is allowed to run in and score. No Koper defender thinks to tackle him. Koper 2 - Celje 4.

73 minutes - There does appear to be some fight from Koper as Ivica Guberac scores what can only be described as a comedy goal from the Celje perspective. Poor defending all around here. Koper 3 - Celje 4.

90+1 minutes - They think it's all over. But it's not. Up pops Damir Hadžić with yet another header from a corner to level again. Koper 4 - Celje 4.

90+2 minutes - The crowd go wild. Moussa Diakité powers in yet another header from a corner and he arrives late on the far post. Now Celje need a comeback. Koper 5 - Celje 4.

90+5 minutes - Koper get a penalty as Blagaić is dragged down in the box. Damir Hadžić grabs the ball, determined to complete his hattrick. He scores. Surely a win for Koper. Koper 6 - Celje 4.

FT - It's all over at Bonifika. Koper stun Celje with a comeback of epic proportions. What a game!

What a game, indeed. Never have I gone from so angry to so ecstatic in five injury time minutes. There is no excusing what Bjedov did, but how about that from Hadžić? A hattrick from the veteran defender.

021SNLM12Celje26920.png.05d445545ec979109b45a1dee25fc4a8.png Cat Wow GIF

That turnaround makes the end of September table look quite nice.


Telekom Slovenje Prva Slovenska Nogometna Liga as at 18.00, Wednesday 23rd September 2020

Niko's Player Of The Month™ - September 2020

When your center back scores a hattrick then there's really only one choice for this award in September. Truth be told, Luka Badžim had a much better month in defence, but the award goes to Damir Hadžić for that hattrick.

Coming Next

Just the league from now on then, and four games in October. We start with away ties at Lowly Dob and then struggling Bravo. Can we turn our away form around with these ties? We then have two home games against Triglav and the strangely inconsistent Maribor.

Well, after that last match I need a glass of Laško. Maybe two. Keep them coming.

Announces Last Call GIF


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October 2020

October would prove to mark a significant upturn in our campaign, and a reversal of certain fortunes. First up were two game away from home against the poor performing Dob and Bravo. Dob would be the tougher of the two games, and the first half of our encounter was one to forget. We had chances but finishing was proving difficult. I pushed the lads to work harder in the second and I was pleased that they again did as I asked. Luka Badžim again popped up with a priceless headed goal three minutes after the break; the third of the season for the young defender. The man legend Ivica Guberac then popped up with a second after 82 minutes. I thought that would secure the points but we lapsed and allowed Dob to pull one back close to the end. I think that goal sparked the team out of their lull and we went on to claim our first win of the season away from Bonifika.


Now that we had ended our away form curse I wanted more wins. How better to continue down that path than a visit to the team that had been in the drop zone since week one? Bravo Ljubljana were having a season to forget, picking up just six points at the time of our meeting. The game couldn't have started better as Blagaić got his head on to a Fink cross for 1-0. We were making use of headers this season with applomb, but Bravo did their best to emulate us in the 38th minute. A corner was headed towards goal and our defence could do little but knock the ball down for Gal Primc to tap in from close range. It wasn't to be for Bravo though. Late in first half stoppage time Djermanović was found in acres of space and he slotted the ball across goal for Blagaić to tap home an easy second. We saw things out in the second half to claim our second away win in two weeks.

I think we can consider the curse beaten.


With that we headed back to Koper for the rest of the month with a smile on our faces. It didn't mark the best home form though. The first game, against Triglav, was full of shots but no one could turn the ball home. Triglav, like us, were bouncing around in the middle of the pack and we should have beanten the mark revenge for our loss in Kranj back in August. We had ten shots on goal in this match and Triglav had five. Both keepers went home with a clean sheet though.


A week later was the visit of Maribor in what was possibly their worst season in fifteen years. It was so bad for Vijoličasti that they were languishing in the bottom half and we were being touted to win. It was Maribor who got off to the best start though, Mulahusejnović heading home from amongst a seemingly confused Koper defence. We pressed with irregularity in an attempt to get an equaliser, and I certainly wasn't happy with just how irregular we seemed to get the ball forward smoothly. It took repeated attempts to get us to play better until we did equalise with yet another headed goal. The scorer of this one was Medin Bajrami with his first goal for Koper.

Maribor had a man sent off late on, but we couldn't make our extra man count in the time that was left and would have to make do with a point. At the start of the season I would have bitten your hand off for the chance to claim a point against Maribor, but with their form I had hoped for three.


The good news is that our upturn in away form has now seen us climb to third place and we're creating a little gap to fifth placed Domžale. This is beyond my wildest hopes.


Telekom Slovenje Prva Slovenska Nogometna Liga as at 17.00, Saturday 31st October 2020

Niko's Player Of The Month™ - October 2020

It has been a simple choice as to who gets this award in recent months but October has proven harder. I think Jakov Blagaić just sneaks the award courtesy of his brace against Bravo.

Coming Next

The season slows down a for a few months now. There are just three games in each of November and December. In November it is due to the international break and our winter break comes mid December. November is also all away games, but that surely doesn't fear is with our new away form. Right? There are games against relegation threatened Mura and then Domžale either side of the international break. At the end of the month we face a huge game at current leaders Aluminij. Can we finally beat the Šumari at their place? I'd love for us to secure our march in to the European places in November.

Things could be worse for Koper back in the Prva Liga.

looking good GIF


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November 2020

An entire month away from home proved tiring and inconsistent. I am also very concerned that our goal scoring has really dropped off since the Celje turnaround. Baša couldn't hit a bus right now, Djermanović struggles to find form around injuries and young Meštrić really just seems to lack confidence. Also, if Edi Baša keeps getting caught offside I swear I may do something unwarranted. I dragged him off immediately after his fifth offside in one of November's matches. It's a simple case of watching the line, isn't it?

First up was a trip to Murska Sobota to play relegation threatened Mura. The lads were sent out with orders to attack because I believed we should win this game. I've been forced in to sticking with our 3-5-2 of late due to injuries, and if truth be told that formation does not have the attacking power of the 4-4-2. That was very evident for most of the game against Mura. Aleksandar Bošković opened the scoring with another header from a corner in the 39th minute, but Mura hit back before half time. In the second half we continued to find it hard to turn possession in to goals despite effort. It took two moments of inspiration from Jakov Blagaić to change the game as he scored two lovely finishes in the 89th and 90th minutes.


After the international break we travelled to Domžale for what would likely be another very tight game. It really was, and we managed to snatch a 0-0 draw despite Ivica Guberac being sent off for a nasty foul right on half time. There's really not much else to say about his game other than the fact that I was pleased that we held on for a point. Ivica got injured shortly after the game so he'll be out longer than just the one game he gets as a ban.

Oh, we did actually have a goal disallowed for a very marginal offside decision. I chose to state my opinion and the FA warned me. I think the fact that they warned me is them saying I might have been right. 0-0 was fair though.


The loss of Ivica seemed to be a big one against our next opponents, Aluminij, despite him not having anywhere near as good a season as he did last year. Matic Črnic came back but I played him centrally to cover for Guberac. The idea pre match was to go out with caution in mind to frustrate Aluminij and maybe hit them on the break. It really didn't work.

Firstly, Edi Baša, as I said earlier, would struggle to stay onside if his life depended upon it. I dragged the striker off after 53 minutes because I got so frustrated. Diakité was another man to be dragged off by a very angry me in the second half. Moussa was awful. Even the always dependable Žan Žužek had a poor game. We are lucky we only lost to a sole 60th minute Aluminij goal. It could have been better though. Of course, it has to be said the sole one goal loss was much more to do with Aluminij's poor finishing. That fact is despite me feeling I am being unfair to a good performance from Marjanovič in the Koper goal. He made a number of good saves.


We just can not beat Aluminij away from home. We have now lost every game at Sportni Park in Kidričevo, and fortunately do not have to travel there again this season. The defeat ended a run of seven undefeated but we're still in the European places. Maribor have improved though, and they could threaten our finish.


Telekom Slovenje Prva Slovenska Nogometna Liga as at 17.00, Saturday 28th November 2020

Niko's Player Of The Month™ - November 2020

I was so pleased with the saves made by Darko Marjanovič that our number one gets my award for November. We have really improved defensively since the start of the season, and Darko has been very much a part of that.

Coming Next

Just three games again in a December that sees the winter break begin. Our first match in Celje marks our fourth away tie in a row, but then we have two home games. We finish the month by welcoming Dob, but must face Aluminij's closest opponents a few days before the Dob match. That team is Olimpija Ljubljana, and if we can beat them it will really signal our intent to remain in the European places.

Halfway there now, but we must...

Hedgehog Keep Going GIF by MOODMAN


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December 2020

With just three games before the winter break the aim was to go in to Christmas on a high. It would be a challenge to get points at Celje and even more so when we welcome Olimpija to Bonifika. Dob should be a formality, but, as they say, football is a funny old game. Some bloke in England once said that.

First up Celje away, and a dreadful start from us. We were 2-0 down by the 22nd minute and I was fearing the worst. I shouted at the lads and Bošković managed to get us back in to the game with yet another headed goal just shy of the 30 minute mark. I asked the lads to up their game in the second half. Despite being back in with a shout were by far the worst team out there. My chat must have done its job because we were wonderful in the second half. Matija Kavčič ran the show and he scored our equaliser in the 53rd minute as he finished a Fink cross with a lovely half volley. We kept the pressure on until the end and scored a dramatic late winner in injury time when Baša scored his first goal since August. It was an easy finish as Edi nodded into an empty net after the Celje keeper totally misjudged the ball.

What is it with games between us and Celje? A 6-4 thriller in September and now a dramatic late win after being down two goals.


So into the big game against Olimpija we went, the lads on a high after the dramatic late win of a week earlier. WE can just never beat those boys though. They don't score a lot against us, but we have failed to score against Olimpija since the first leg of last year's cup quarter final. That trend continued with a 0-0 stalemate. It's better than losing.


Four days later we finished off the first half of the season with an emphatic win over Dob at Bonifika. The side promoted with us last season had started to struggle and were slowly being sucked in to a relegation battle with the improving Mura. Dob were no match for us and goals from Bošković and Bjedov were accompanied by a wonder strike from outside the box by the returning Ivica Guberac. Our midfield dynamo had only been on the pitch for two minutes when he scored.


It was a wonderful win over Dob that capitalised on draws from Aluminij, Olimpija and Maribor. It makes the top half of this season's Prva Liga very tight as we all head in to a long break. We really have a chance of a very good finish here. I could still see the wonderful finish by Ivica in my dreams, and it was further proof that Ivica deserved thata ccolade thatw as afforded to him early in December. He may be approaching the end of his career but his wonderful form for Koper since I took over earnt him a nomination for Slovenian Player Of The Year.


Telekom Slovenje Prva Slovenska Nogometna Liga as at 16.00, Wednesday 16th December 2020

Niko's Player Of The Month™ - December 2020

Aleksandar Boškoviċ has been fantastic for us this last month, scoring twice in crucial games and putting in dominat defensive displays. Luka Badžim is back fit but Aleks is not giving him a sniff of getting in to the side. It is great to have four center backs all performing well, especially with Damir Hadžiĉ on the verge of retirement.

Coming Next

A nice break now over Christmas and then the lads return for some friendlies and the final run in. There are fourteen games remaining and tough fixtures yet to come in Maribor and Ljubljana. The first big fixture will be February 22nd as we travel to Kranj to face Triglav.

There is also the small matter of the transfer window opening. Hopefully we can keep ahold of our players, but I want a striker. Our current crop of forwards are not finding the net regularly enough for me and they need a kick up the backsides by way of a replacement. I have a target from our partner team of Triestina. They have a young striker that I think would spend a few months in Koper and score us some goals.

Hopefully soem goals can fire us to a brilliant finish. Dare we hope to even top the pile come May?

Dream Big GIF - Dream Big GIFs

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Season 2020/2021 Winter Break & Transfer Window

Transfer Window

Firs the transfer window, and it was very quiet for us. I brought in just one player, and, despite chatter from the press, no one left Koper. Marko Martinaga has agreed to leave us at the end of the season to move to RNK Split in Croatia. I didn't see a future for Marko in our setup so it's for the best that he look to a move.

Luka Badžim was our man wanted. The promising young center back is wanted by BK Häcken in Sweden, but the Swedes obviously didn't want to match my valuation of a cool half a mill.

My desire for the window was to acquire a striker. I was very keen to make a move for a young striker at Dinamo Zagreb, but the Croatian league leaders removed him from the loan list a few days after the window opened. That put a hold on that idea.

I previously mentioned that I was looking at players from Triestina, our partner club, but that never really materialised. The more I looked at eligible recruits the less I felt them an improvement.

I instead turned to my director of football to suggest me some strikers that might want to join. He suggested a couple of young strikers at two Prva Liga clubs and my scouting network sprung in to action. A number of reports drew me to a 19 year old at Aluminij that had scored 6 goals in 5 Prva Liga starts for the Kidričevo club. David Flakus Bosilj had obviously fallen down the pecking order and was listed for loan. He joins us for the remainder of the season in the hope he can give us that final little edge we need to stay in the European places.


Elsewhere in the Prva Liga there was not a huge amount of movement. Dob, Mura and Bravo were busyish in an effort to stay in the division. Aluminij signed three and let three go. Mura made a cool £235k on one defender but spent none of that money, instead loaning in four. The Murasi may be more danagerous now. Dob spent a big £56k on three reasonable looking players that could be key to keeping them in the Prva Liga.

Winter Break

The most interesting fact that came about in our winter break build up to the return of the Prva Liga was the form of Edi Baša. A day after Boselj joined us we faced Sigma Olomouc in a friendly at Bonifika and Edi was in scintiliating fashion, scoring four goals in a blistering first half. I can only think it was a "look at me" from Edi in response to the Boselj signing. I'll start Edi against Bravo and hope it is the kick in the behind he needed.

Incidentally we stuffed Sigma Olomouc 6-1 in that game. We also beat Trnava 3-0 and Slavia Praha 1-0 in friendlies. Surely that can't be bad for the confidence.

We go in to our first game back versus Bravo looking to push on and secure our European spot.

"Daj no, Koper. Nikogar se ne bojimo."

Ekipa24.si - LEPA GESTA Koprčanov! Tako so se kanarčki ZAHVALILI vsem  ZDRAVSTVENIM DELAVCEM! (video)

I should have found this photo in season one. We miss you Dare Vršiĉ.

I still can't work out why sometimes it's a č and sometimes a ć. Some sources I found said Slovenian doesn't have the ć, only Croatian, Serbian etc. It doesn't often hold true though. Different ethnicities I presume.

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February 2021

The final run in is well underway now and things are looking good for Kanarčki. They could have been even better but for an error, but we'll get to that.

The return from the winter break saw us entertain almost relegated Bravo Ljubljana at Bonifika. It proved to be a dominating performance, and especially so from Bjedov on the right. Our wide man set up Črnic for our first goal mid way through the first half. It was a wonderful cross from the byeline from Bjedov and a lovely side-footed finish at the back stick from Črnic. Bjedov then scored our second mid way through the second half with a belter of a finish in the box. A good three points.


A week later was our tie of the month in which we travelled to Kranj to take on our close rivals Triglav. The first half was a tight affair that finished on a high. Jakov Blagaić was bundled over in the area and up stepped Guberac to convert from the spot. Triglav's response was to come out of the blocks fast in the second half, and they equalised seven minutes in through a dominant header via a free kick.

Edi Baša had a cracking few friendlies for us at the end of the break, but he was back to his inconsistency now that we were playing competitively. His real problem is the number of times he finds himself offside. I lost patience with this in the 65th minute and brought on new signing Bosilj. It turned out to be a master stroke as our sub headed home a corner just three minutes later when he beat the keeper to the ball. Now we just needed to hold on, and it looked like we might until right at the very end. There was a clear fault that led to Triglav's equaliser and sadly it was our number one, Marjanovič. Perhaps I should have switched my instructions to the lads regarding playing out from the back, and asked them to just play it long, because it was a simple ball out that Darko played behind Damir Hadžič and allowed Triglav to sneak on to the lose ball and slot past our embarassed keeper.

Two points lost.


That result made us even more determined to beat Mura at home a week later. Mura are pushing hard to stay in the division, and are in a huge battle with Dob, and that made this a tougher game than we expected. Two moments made it harder still. Firstly Jakov Blagaić was forced off after a hefty challenge after half an hour. The second moment was ten minutes after half time when Damir Hadžič received his marching orders after his second yellow. He was left in the lurch really after a quick break from Mura and just misstimed his challenge.

The sending off left us on the back foot in a match that coudl we win would take us second in the table. Queue another dramatic moment in the match and courtesy of Moussa Diakité, a man that loves to show up at the end. Just as he did in the 6-4 win over Celje, Moussa handed us the points late in stoppage time with a wonder strike from outside the box.

Thank you Moussa for sending us second.


So we find ourselves second in the Prva Liga table with eleven games left. It is so close though. Maribor, in fifth, are just five points shy of us and we face them next. Exciting, innit?

1Liga_Feb21.png.4461e4475b5a5bf65501bf040ae35a74.png  time popcorn GIF

Telekom Slovenje Prva Slovenska Nogometna Liga as at 19.00, Sunday 28th February 2021

Niko's Player Of The Month™ - February 2021

There are two performances to chose from for my award in February, and those are the man of the match performance by Bjedov against Bravo and Diakité's match winner against Mura. For the fact that it won us a tight game I am going to give the award to Moussa for what that late goal did for us. It was a sensational moment.

Coming Next

I alluded to it above, and March starts with a tough trip to Maribor to face the defending champions. It is a month in which we also face Aluminij at home and leaders Olimpija away to end the month. A home game with the probably out of the race Domžale will be our chance to breathe.

Crikey! - Steve Irwin Crikey | Meme Generator

"Kanarčki bodo prišli skozi močne. Verjeti!"

I wonder if I am talking garbage with those Slovenian quotes...

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March 2021

And so came the time for my toughest month of management of my Koper tenure as we stepped out in front of the fans at the Stadion Ludski Vrt in Maribor. It was about half full with one hundred, or so, die hard Koper fans clad in yellow. Those passionate followers gave the biggest cheer as we got off to the best start 18 minutes in, David Bosilj latching on to a Bjedov ball into the box to make it 1-0. Maribor pushed hard to get the equaliser and, try as we might to hold on, it finally came in the 67th minute. It came via the head of the defender Maribor had spent £250k on back in the summer, David Brekalo. That is how the match finished, and although we maybe had the better chances, a draw was fair.


And then the breather, as three days later we welcomed Domžale to Bonifika. We got off to another best possible start just 6 minutes in when Jan Andrejašič latched on to a Matic Črnic inswinger to head home for an early lead. Domžale ended the half the stronger though as they equalised from the poorly marked Mujan to send us in at half time level. The second half was a different story. Ten minutes in it was 2-1 as Bosilj headed highest from a corner to give us the lead. Luka Badžim made it 3-1 with another header ten minutes from the end, and Bosilj completed the rout two minutes before the whistle. It was Bosilj's fourth goal since joining, and I guess we'd found our goalscorer.


Sadly, Bosilj wasn't available to play against his parent club as we welcomed Aluminij to Bonifika. With Blagaić still in the physio room we went with an attacking two of Baša and Djermanović, and boy were they poor. In a tight game we managed a point after Črnic equalised an early Aluminij goal. Matic's goal really was a thing of a beauty that swerved in from the edge of the box and gave the keeper no chance.

A point kept things tight in the top four. Triglav had won a day earlier and Maribor would draw a day later. Olimpija were starting to stretch away at the very top, and it was they whom we would face next.


We'd not managed to beat Olimpija in five previous meetings and for this meeting in the capital I went with a much more defensive lineup. We had lost Žužek in midfield to bookings, but Bosilj came back in to the starting lineup. Our first half was very poor and Olimpija were on the front foot throughout, but we managed to keep it level at the break. I asked the lads to up their game in the second half but it was Olimpija that finally took the lead 68 minutes in, as first Bjedov missed a tackle to allow a cross in to the box before Bošković lost his man to allow a simple header for Ante Vukušić. Fortuitously we managed to take a point from the game. Bosilj powered a header at goal from a freekick and, with the keeper floundering, the unforetunate Mario Jurčević, who had only been on the field four minutes, could only head home an own goal.

The press were not complimentative of our plucky draw, calling the equaliser lucky (well, it was) and our point fortuitous. They weren't in marvel of our performance either. I saw our game as gritty rather than pretty. Sometimes you have to battle rather than please the eye. I was very happy with a point.


And so March ended with us in second place in our first season back in the Prva Liga. With seven games left it was still a very tight battle for the second to fifth positions. One team of four would miss out on a European place. At the other end Bravo were almost certainly relegated whilst Dob and Mura were battling to avoid a relegation play off.


Telekom Slovenje Prva Slovenska Nogometna Liga as at 17.00, Saturday 20th March 2021

Niko's Player Of The Month™ - March 2021

David Bosilj had joined us with the hope that he could provide us with some consistent goals up front. He has done just that, scoring four and providing the header that Olimpija could only turn in to their own net in our last game. It is those goals that win him my award for March.

Coming Next

April is a complete contrast to March as we face four teams in the bottom half. A home time with Celje is up first before we face trips to Dob, Bravo and Mura. Wouldn't it be Murphy's law if we were to lose all four after doing so well in our tough month? I have confidence we won't though.

Sods Law More Like - Imgflip

I do...honest!

"Verjemite v Kanarčke."


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April 2021

After the month of hell we settled in to what we hoped would be a much easier month. It was until a late hiccup, but more on that later. We had to do things without Žan Žužek though. Our midfield man broke his arm in training and faces six weeks out.

We started the month by welcoming Celje to Bonifika. This had been the side against whom games had produced goals galore and it'd be wonderful for the fans if this were to happen again. For myself, it is easier on the stress levels if we get a calm win, and we did. Just one goal decided the game and it came from our new loan striker, David Bosilj, midway through the first half. It was another header that grabbed for David his fifth goal since joining us.


Next up we travelled to relegation threatened Dob, and the chatter before the match was regarding my friendship with the Dob manager, Nenad Toševski. Nenad has been quite complimentary of me, and I admit I would like to see Dob stay up, just not at our own expense. Dob pushed us hard in the game and it was very much down to our defense that we kept a clean sheet. At the other end we won through goals in either half from first Jan Andrejašič and then David Bosilj again. Yes, he did score with his head.

Later that weekend Maribor, Triglav and Olimpija lost. Good for us.


Prior to our next game, away to Bravo, further tragedy struck with Blagaić falling foul of an abdominal strain. It meant Baŝa would come back in to the team in a role more focused on support than scoring to try and prove himself. He did just that in a tight win against the bottom team. Edi set up two chances and made three key passes as we won by two goals to one. We started on the front foot and won a penalty in the fourth minute. Ivica Guberac stepped up. And missed! We rectified this miss on 25 minutes with a goal from Bosilj that for once wasn't a header. Guberac then made up for his penalty miss a minute later to make the game 2-0. It was a lovely goal for which Ivica came late on to a Bjedov cross and finished on the volley. Bravo made a game of the contest ten minutes later with a goal from a corner and the contest turned very tight. We held on to secure another three points.


Yet more injury tragedy struck before our last match of the month as we lost keeper Darko Marjanovič to a sports hernia. It meant we would travel to Murska Sobota, to face relegation threatened Mura, with back up keeper Primož Bužan in goal. I had to believe in the 24 year old. This was not the best time to face an injury crisis though, and it showed in the result of this game. Our first half was incredibly poor and we found ourselves 1-0 down at half time. I demanded the lads improve in the second and we managed an equaliser 7 minutes after the break from Bosilj once more. Goal 8 of his Koper loan spell for the young man. Quite rightly David would be considered for young player of the season later.

That equaliser was as good as it got for us though, and Mura finished the game very strongly whilst we really faded. Our young back up keeper wasn't great, but nor was his defense, as we conceded twice to lose 3-1 on the day.


Also in that week we were fortunate not to lose too much ground as Aluminij and Olimpija drew 1-1. Maribor fell further behind, losing at home to Dob, and Triglav kept up the pressure with a win at Bravo.


That kept the table very tight. We'd managed to close the gap on Olimpija in April, but the Mura defeat found us behind by a point at the end of the month. Maribor look out of the title race, but they can still dent hopes for European football because they could win the cup. With Mura beating us Dob are now in trouble, despite beating Maribor.


Telekom Slovenje Prva Slovenska Nogometna Liga as at 18.00, Sunday 25th April 2021

Niko's Player Of The Month™ - April 2021

With David Bosilj now on 8 goals for us since joining, as well as 4 goals in April, he wins my award for April to make it two awards in a row. It is clear he has changed our season with his goals.

Coming Next

So three games left of the season with us a point behind Olimpija in second. In May we face Triglav at home and Maribor away before we end with a trip to Domžale. We'll have to do at least the start of the month without Žužek, Blagaiċ and Marjanovič, but my hope is the squad can pull through.

So here we are...

Canadian Birthday GIF

Can we make Europe or will we fail to Rock The Night and have to be content with Slovenia next season?

Join us soon for the reckoning.

Edited by anagain
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May 2021

What a month! Anger followed by promise. Elation followed by dismay.

With the end in sight we welcomed Triglav to Bonifika desperate to not follow the humiliation in Murska Sobota with another defeat. Triglav were hot on our heels and we didn't want to lose the lead we had built up over our rivals. With all teams suffering end of season inconsistency anything was now possible in this season's Prva Liga.

We got off to a terrible start, Mislav Matić firing home from outside of the area and Bužan failing to reach what should have been a save. We responded well to this setback, Medin Bahrami powering home a bullet header before Bjedov scored what could easily be the goal of the season. Our pacey winger picked the ball up just outside the right corner of the box before weaving his way past two Triglav defenders and firing home.

We really should have held on to that lead, but it was another poor defensive display that cost us in the second half. We really weren't at the races for the second 45 which saw Triglav storm their way to three more goals for what ended up being a convincing 4-2 win. I can't blame our young deputy keeper for any of these goals, unlike the first, and this defeat purely goes down to some awful marking.

It is fair to say I was furious after this.


Elsewhere in the race for Europe, Aluminij and Olimpija suffered slight setbacks with draws. Maribor managed to close some distance with a win at Celje. With two games to go and a six point gap it will take a miracle for them to qualify for Europe via the league. They'll have to win the cup to possible save their manager's job. There has been much media speculation over the future of Darko Milanič at Maribor, and the man himself was not overly pleased with some of my comments.

02_1Liga_GameWeek33_1521.png.1eb550ea0f6ad4e2a69f6da3f28d893d.png 02_1Liga_GameWeek34_table.png.7963f1960e8e8f4ef63dd8f2b4fdd814.png

Next up were Maribor. Time to show Darko what is what with a win to get us back on track. That desire got off to the best possible start just 5 minutes in when David Bosilj got on the end of a Bjedov corner. It was pretty much easy running after that moment as maribor rarely threatened us. We didn't have too many chances ourselves and held on to a 1-0 win that gets us back on track.


That win over Maribor secured our entry into next season's Europa Conference League as Aluminij can no longer overtake us.  Despite Olimpija beating relegated Bravo we still have a chance of taking the title too. We just have to rely on Celje beating the pole position team in Ljubljana.

Maribor can no longer make the top four after their defeat to us, and it is a fight between Aluminij and Triglav in the final week for the final guaranteed spot in the Europa Conference League. Maribor need to win the cup, but they'll need to beat Bilje if they want to face Celje in the final.

02_1Liga_GameWeek35_8521.png.d8b09796a85ba69896ae41be1483425b.png 02_1Liga_GameWeek35_table.png.3567f786a4adfa9604e0fc00c45e157a.png

And so we come to the final day. We face Domžale at their place whilst Olimpija welcome Celje in the battle for the title. In the fight for the final guaranteed European spot Aluminij welcome relegation play off team Dob to Kranj and Triglav travel to Maribor.

Within six minutes of our game we were in dreamland. Luka Badžim opened the scoring in the first minute when he headed home a corner. In Ljubljana, Gasper Koritnik shocked the Olimpija fans as he ran on to a lob forward and fired home from the edge of the area. At that point we were Slovenian champions!

Of course great things rarely last, and in the 16th minute Domžale levelled from the penalty spot after Matic Črnic was adjudged to have clipped his man. It was probably the right decision and it continued my frustration with the recent performances of Matic on the left wing. It has been an up and down season for a player I thought could be big for us.

Anyway, we now needed another goal, whilst continuing to hope that Olimpija couldn't find an equaliser against Celje. They never found that goal in Ljubljana, but neither did we in Domžale. We pressed and pressed our opponents without success. One goal between us and the title. As I said, elation to dismay.

021SNLM36Domzale15521.png.965bfa3bad77dda6a7c6224b98c4bb08.png 02_1Liga_GameWeek36_15521.png.31a224565961119a39b54c5d7694b2a7.png

Triglav and Aluminij could only draw their games so Triglav kept their third place and qualified for the Europa Conference League at Aluminij's expense. It was a fantastic turnaround for Mura. Their win over long relegated Bravo nearly took them above Domžale whilst ending a miserable season the Ljubljana club.

Dob will face Radomlje in the relegation play off to see who will be playing in the Prva Liga next season. Rudar Velenje are the team that come up from the Druga Liga as champions; and instant return to the Prva Liga for Knapi . Brda and Podvinci are relegated to the Tretja Liga.

Congratulations to champions Olimpija Ljubljana.


Telekom Slovenje Prva Slovenska Nogometna Liga Final Table 2020/2021

Niko's Player Of The Month™ - May 2021

My final monthly award of the season goes to Vid Kobe Bjedov. The winger scored a fantastic solo goal against Triglav, despite our loss, and had a great game to guide us to a win over Maribor. Vid tried his hardest against Domžale and I can't fault him for effort despite the dismay we suffered.

Coming Next

It's break time for the squad, and the countdown to our first appearance in European competition under my management.



That might well be it for FM2020 for me. I am not even likely to get close to doing a second season before FM2021 beta arrives, and I have never been one to go back to old FMs once another arrives. I'm contemplating continuing and seeing how I do in Europe, but the more I think about it the more I wonder if I can even get that far with the speed at which i play this game being so slow. I am unlikely to continue tonight, but I'll see how I feel tomorrow.

I've really enjoyed this two season save. It was good to go back to Koper again, and really interesting to dive in to the Slovenian language, culture and geography.

Hvala za branje in upam, da ste uživali v moji Koprski odisejadi. Načrtujem, da se vrnem na FM2021. Moja trenutna misel je na baltske narode. Estonija, Litva ali Latvija. Ko lige pridejo na prizorišče. Svoje potovanje sem rad užival na papirju, zato se nameravam vrniti.

I'm not entirely sure why I put that in Slovenian. Maybe just to end my Google translating on a grand note. It was supposed to say:

"Thank you for reading and I hope you enjoyed my Koper odyssey. I do plan to be back for FM2021. My current thought is the Baltic nations. Estonia, Lithuania or Latvia. Once the leagues arrive on the scene. I've enjoyed putting my journeys down on  'paper' so I do plan to be back."



I might choose somewhere with less accents for FM21.

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23 minutes ago, Lodi Lemmer said:

If this is it for this thread, well done. anagain! I enjoyed it very much.

Thank you. I do like to write, and I wonder if I go overboard sometimes for the careers forum, but I like to post images too.

I'm so tempted to do more Koper in FM21 beta. I believe I've grown a real attachment to the club. It's wonderful how FM can do that. Now, if only I could find somewhere to buy a Koper FC shirt. Despite all that learning Slovenian I am at a loss.

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