Soccer - I feel no fear, says keeper Dabanovic

LJUBLJANA, Jun 13, 2000 -- (Reuters) Slovenian goalkeeper Mladen Dabanovic is not afraid of the notorious free kicks of Yugoslav sweeper Sinisa Mihajlovic ahead of their opening Group C match at Euro2000 on Tuesday.

"We are not burdened by the way they (Yugoslavia) play. Most goals Mihajlovic scores from free kicks are due to goalkeepers' fear of his powerful shot. I feel no fear," said Dabanovic, who is likely to be named Slovenia's first choice keeper.

But at 1.96 metres the squad's giant could be among the busiest men on the field when Slovenia face their former compatriots.

"Expectations are huge but we must admit what Slovenian fans like to forget - Yugoslavia has high quality players - a class or two better than Slovenia," said Franci Bozic, sports reporter of the country's largest daily Delo.

He expects team spirit and "fanatic aggressiveness" to be the tiny Alpine nation's best weapons against the "Brazilians of the Balkans," as Yugoslavs like to call themselves.

Robert Balantic of sports daily Ekipa said: "Yugoslavia are the better side, there is no doubt about that, but their undisciplined mentality has buried them so many times.

"As a fan, not as a journalist I bet Slovenia will win 2-1."

Some Slovene players, including coach Srecko Katanec, have experience of playing in the former Yugoslav league and are familiar with their opponents' style.

"I know how Vujadin Boskov (Yugoslav coach) thinks, I know how will they play, I am almost certain I could predict their starting line-up. The only thing I don't know is their condition at the moment," Katanec said.

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