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Handanovic stands tall in Slovenian goal
by Paul Kennedy, June 17th, 2010 1:49AM

TAGS:  italy, men's national team, world cup


[PORTRAIT] The USA is generally regarded as having the best goalie in Tim Howard among the Group C teams at the World Cup, but you'll get quite an argument from Slovenia, whose first-choice goalie Samir Handanovic is one of the top young keepers in Europe.

Only 25, Handanovic debuted for Slovenia at the age of 19 and already has 38 caps. He has size (almost 6-foot-5) and excellent reflexes,

Handanovic was quickly snapped by Italian club Udinese for which he has already made more than 100 appearances.

He was a key factor in Slovenia's success in World Cup qualifying when he allowed only six goals in 12 games -- the second best record of any goalie in Europe. He preserved Slovenia's edge over Russia in their playoff series with two late saves.

In the opening Group C game against Algeria, he didn't have a lot to do but made one critical save on Nadir Belhadj's free kick early in the game.

Bayern Munich is considered the favorite to sign Handanovic, whose cousin Jasmin Handanovic is one of his backups in goal for Slovenia

"I think it's best for Samir that he leaves Udinese in the summer," his agent Federico Pastorello said recently.

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