As a prelude to this coming Thursday game with Maribor I made contact with Maribor fan Matej Zibert. Matej very kindly agreed to answer some questions about Maribor and its football club which are below.
My thanks for Matej for his excellent command of the English language.
1/ Tell us about Maribor as a town, it looks beautiful in the photos that I have seen?
Maribor is the second largest city in Slovenia with about 100.000 inhabitants and river Drava separating the two banks. The city itself is quite boring but you still can find enough pubs and night clubs to spend your time (prices are inappropriately cheaper here – a pint = 2€) and for more inquisitive folks, there’s also a home of the oldest grapevine in the world
2/ What about Maribor the football club, are you a regular in European competitions?
Well, Slovenian football league was founded in 1992 after our independence from Yugoslavia and since then NK Maribor won 11 league titles which of course means the team is pretty regular in UEFA competitions. Our first and only appearance in the CL group stages happened in 1999/00, followed by few less successful years after reckless actions of our management which nearly led us into bankruptcy. With Zlatko Zahovic appointed as a new dS, a new era started in 2008 and now NKMB play in Europa league for the third year in a row.
3/ Which clubs are your main rivals?
Our biggest rival is Olimpija Ljubljana and games vs them are reffered as “Eternal derbies”.
4/ Which players should we watch out for?
For sure the most dangerous player is our captain Marcos Tavares who plays as a striker or usually right behind, while Mezga, Mertelj and Cvijanovic are engines of the midfield. Defence is our weakest position by far.
5/ We know the F.A.cup final is watched all over the world, did you watch our victory over Manchester City?
Of course and I cheered for you guys. Congrats again 🙂
6/ Is English football shown on T.V. in Maribor?
Yes, we have sport channels which broadcast PL and sometimes even Championship or League One. English teams are very popular here.
7/ Do you know any Wigan players and if so which one impresses you the most?
Wigan has terrific players for this , it’s impossible not to know them. Holt, Maloney, McArthur, McManaman, Powell are just few of them but I can say I know 3/4 of your squad.
8/Do you have a favourite English club?
This will sound glory hunting but Man United are my favorite team for like 13 years now. But Maribor comes first!
9/What is your average attendance and are your crowds very passionate?
Well, on the European games our stadium is almost always sold out but in the league there are usually about 2.500 fans which is still way better then any other team. Sometimes we even have bigger attendance than the other four games combined!
And to answer your other question, Usually away crowds are thrilled with the atmosphere here; Spurs, Birmingham, Hibernian and other non-British fans will agree with me. For more, search “Viole Maribor” on youtube
10/ Do you expect to bring many fans over to Wigan?
Hard to say, maybe about 400-500 but I think less.
11/ Are you confident of Maribor getting out of the group?
We all hope that. This is our third consecutive appearance in the UEL group stages, we’re more mature, experienced etc. and opponents will probably underestimate us once again. Last year Maribor had 4 pts from the clashes with Panathinaikos, Lazio and Tottenham…and now we have easier group, so why not?
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