Victory in Slovenia Caps Unbeaten 2010 for Georgian Football
By Alastair Watt
Friday, November 19
A sensational comeback from Temuri Ketsbaia's Georgia earned a 2-1 win against Slovenia in Koper on Wednesday night.
Two goals in the space of a mad second-half minute saw Georgia snatch victory from the jaws of defeat as Ketsbaia's men continued their recent revival.
The Slovenians fielded a very strong side full of players from the top leagues of western Europe whereas many of Georgia's established players were injured or rested for the match as Ketsbaia named a fairly experimental line-up.
In the first half it was one way traffic as Slovenia were utterly dominant, forcing Georgian goalkeeper Giorgi Loria into several smart saves.
Four minutes before half-time, Kakha Kaladze was deemed to have tripped Armin Bacinovic in the box and Slovenia were awarded a dubious penalty kick. Milijove Novakovic struck the penalty kick powerfully but Loria reacted heroically to palm the ball wide of target.
Georgia's relief was only temporary though as, five minutes after the break, Bostjan Cesar rose to head home a Josip Ilicic corner and give Slovenia a deserved lead.
Georgia had been non-existent as an attacking force, something they needed to address if Ketsbaia was to maintain his unbeaten record.
In the 67th minute, the Georgians did spring to life with a little help from clumsy Slovenian midfielder Mark Suler. Suler recklessly passed the ball along his own 18-yard line and Sandro Guruli pounced on the loose ball to score via the post.
It was Guruli's first international goal and, even though its creation was fortunate, its execution was impressive.
Moments later, Georgia were at it again. Slovenia lost the ball carelessly from the restart and Mate Vatsadze took full advantage, slipping the ball through for Jano Ananidze who finished with great composure to complete a remarkable turnaround.
Slovenia were visibly stunned by this Georgian revival and the hosts had very little to offer in the remaining 20 minutes or so.
Ketsbaia could not suppress a beaming smile as he shook hands with his opposite number Matjaz Kek and the Georgian coach can be justifiably proud of his first year in charge.
Under his stewardship, Georgia have played eight matches without defeat and they can expect to again rise up FIFA's world rankings when they are announced shortly.
In the new year, Georgia entertain Croatia in late March before travelling to Israel in their Euro 2012 qualification campaign. These ties will present Ketsbaia with his stiffest challenge yet but it would be naive to back against the rejuvenated Georgians under their inspirational leader.