In the Slovenian First Division match between NK Rogaska and Olimpija Ljubljana, eyebrows were raised and social media abuzz when the home team substituted their goalkeeper just 20 seconds into the game.
The surprising move ultimately resulted in a 2-2 draw, with Olimpija Ljubljana dropping valuable points to the bottom-placed NK Rogaska.
The match took an unexpected turn as the hosts found themselves trailing 2-0 in the first half.
Former Derby forward Timi Elsnik managed to pull one back from the penalty spot, giving hope to the struggling side.
In added time, defender Marko Brest secured a dramatic equalizer, salvaging a point for Olimpija Ljubljana and keeping the pressure on league leaders Celje.
However, the real talking point emerged from NK Rogaska’s decision to substitute their 17-year-old debutant goalkeeper, Zan Lorber, just moments after he stepped onto the pitch.
The unexpected move raised questions and speculation, especially considering the senior debutant was replaced by Bosnian goalkeeper Adjin Mulalic, who had recently been signed on loan.
The peculiar substitution becomes clearer when considering the unavailability of the first-choice goalkeeper, Rok Vodicek, who had previously played for Manchester United.
In the Slovenian League, you have to start a certain number of young players in the team.— EuroFoot (@eurofootcom) February 11, 2024
Rogaška started the match with a 17-year-old goalkeeper.
In the opening seconds of the game, they deliberately put the ball out of play and subbed the main goalkeeper on. 😅🇸🇮 pic.twitter.com/zkO0fz8kEk
The club’s decision to field Lorber, only to substitute him immediately, left fans and pundits puzzled.
Digging deeper into the circumstances surrounding the substitution, it was revealed that in 2022, the Slovenian Football Association introduced a rule mandating every top division team to field at least one player eligible for the nation’s under-21 side.
Additionally, each club was required to have a minimum of eight home-grown players in their squad.
This rule sheds light on the managerial strategy employed by NK Rogaska, as they attempted to adhere to the FA’s regulations by providing a senior debut to young goalkeeper Lorber, who presumably met the criteria for under-21 eligibility.
The subsequent substitution with Mulalic, a more experienced player, allowed the team to fulfill the requirement while optimizing their chances on the field.
As the debate rages on, one thing is certain – NK Rogaska’s goalkeeper switch will be remembered as one of the most unconventional moments in Slovenian football.