Archive for October, 2010

Oct 31 2010

Matchday 14: DAC on the up

Published by under Domestic

DAC Dunajska Streda 3-0 MFK Ruzomberok (att: 4,332)

DAC are on the up.  Big time.  A run of 4 wins and 3 draws out of their last 7 leagues games, against opposition including MSK Zilina & Slovan Bratislava, has seen the team traditionally representing the Hungarian population in Slovakia transform themselves from relegation candidates to European pretenders.  They now find themselves in 7th place just 3 points off 4th.  The stadium, which was temporarily closed earlier in the season due to the lack of CCTV cameras, is now drawing in the biggest crowds of the Corgon League and the fans are loving every minute of it.

36 year old goalkeeper Pavel Kovac must be pleased with his decision to wind down towards retirement back home in Slovakia after several years spent in Greece.  Kovac admitted that it took some time to readjust to playing back in Slovakia after his time at Olympiakos but the veteran keeper must take some serious credit for the current run which includes 3 consecutive clean sheets.

Striker Zoltán Harsányi who has been involved with Slovakia U21 is moving up the goalscoring tables and netted the 3rd against Ruzomberok on Saturday.  Harsányi returned to Slovakia this season after 3 years at Bolton Wanderers (where he didn’t make an appearance) and no offer of a contract at NEC Nijmegen, however with performances like this it won’t be long before foreign teams, and possibly Vladimir Weiss start taking notice once again.  DAC face Senica, Trnava, Presov & Dubnica next and if they keep the current run of form going they will have a big influence on things at the top of the table and potentially leave themselves in a very strong position going into the winter break.

ViOn Zlaté Moravce 1-1   Slovan Bratislava (3,218)

Another good crowd in for this clash of two teams tied on equal points in 4th and 5th in the league.  Slovan needed a win here to take advantage of Zilina dropping points, but once again failed in their mission against opponents they would normally expect to beat.  A goal for Filip Sebo a plus point for a Slovan team struggling to keep touch at the top but Slovan go home ruing numerous missed chances by both Sebo and strike-partner Juraj Halenar.

Tatran Presov 0-0 Spartak Trnava (2,105)

Tatran will also be pleased with over 2,000 people in for this match and probably will be happy to gain a point against supposed title challengers in Spartak.  Trnava unimpressively record their 2nd consecutive 0-0 draw and in a similar fashion to Slovan fail to take advantage of Zilina’s draw on Friday.  6 points remains the gap between Trnava and Zilina.

MFK Dubnica 0-1 FK Senica (1,460)

Senica are the only team who close the gap on Zilina and are now 4 points behind the Champions in 2nd place.

MFK Kosice 3-0 FC Nitra (670)

Well, I didn’t see this one coming, but Kosice proved there is still life in Slovakia’s 2nd city team although you wouldn’t believe it based on the crowd.  Kosice move off the bottom of the table and nobody can argue with a convincing 3-0 victory over a Nitra side slipping down the table fast.  The rivalry between neighbours Presov and Kosice keeps things very interesting at the bottom of the table and if either of them puts a run of form together, Dubnica and Nitra need to be careful!

Zilina 3-3 Dukla Bansk Bystrica

1. Liga

AS Trencin slipped up losing 3-2 away at Bodva Moldava and Lucenec are the new name in 2nd place after Liptovsky Mikulas also lost at Dolny Kubin.  Trencin remain 11 points clear.  Petrzalka are temporarily down to 4th and miss out on the opportunity to regain 2nd place after the worrying news that FK Puchov didn’t turn up for their match against Petrzalka this morning due to financial difficulties.



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Oct 30 2010

Zilina 3-3 Dukla Banska Bystrica (with a look forward to Marseille)

Published by under Domestic,European

Jaromír Nohavica, Ostrava’s very own folk legend, played in Žilina on Monday evening. Nohavica sings about everything ; love, memory, friendship, bird flu, comets and classic Czech literature are just a few of his themes. He also likes his football and is a big fan of Baník Ostrava, his local side. So, needless to say, Monday’s concert was littered with references to the great game. ‘Greetings from the bottom of the Czech league to the Champions League,’ said Nohavica at the beginning of his performance. Later, during the encore, he delighted his audience by telling them how happy the entire Ostrava region was when Žilina beat Sparta Prague to progress to the Champions League group stages. ‘Don’t stop believing,’ he exhorted, ‘battle all the way and make sure you pick up some points.’ Then he launched into ‘Fotbal’, surely a candidate for best song ever written about the experience of being a supporter.

Get him in the changing room!

Nohavica would have been aware that, before turning their thoughts to this Wednesday’s Champions League match with Marseille, Žilina had two domestic games to deal with. They safely negotiated the first, Tuesday’s tricky Slovak Cup tie away to Senec. Next up were Banská Bystrica in the Corgoň Liga, a match moved forward to yesterday (Friday) evening.

Bystrica are rather a puzzle to me. Last autumn, largely thanks to outstanding performances from strikers Marek Kuzma and Dušan Uškovič, they outplayed Žilina at Štadión SNP. Sadly, neither Kuzma, who later moved to Slovan Bratislava, nor Uškovič, who stayed with Bystrica but has been in and out of favour, have really flourished since then. Bystrica finished a creditable third in the league last season but have had mixed results this time round and were in sixth place going into last night’s game. Looking at the league table before heading out to the ground, I was struck by the two sides’ defensive records. Both had conceded just nine goals in thirteen league games. Considering too that two of Žilina’s previous three home league matches had ended 0-0, I wasn’t expecting a high-scoring affair.

But high-scoring it was. Both sides played a fast, open game, both looked dangerous every time they attacked and both were alarmingly vulnerable defensively. Bystrica’s problem was their goalkeeper Peter Boroš, who never looked comfortable when high balls came into his penalty area. Žilina’s three goals all came from crosses that should have been dealt with but weren’t, Tomáš Oravec applying simple finishing touches each time.

In the opposite goal, Martin Dúbravka was largely blameless – certainly he had little chance with any of the Bystrica goals – but he was ill-served by central-defenders Jozef Piaček and Mario Pečalka, both of whom had poor games. Andrej Hesek matched Oravec’s first two goals before being replaced by Uškovič, who rounded off perhaps the best move of the match to equalise at 3-3 and complete the scoring.

It was an enjoyable 90 minutes and the fair-minded among the Žilina support will appreciate that, unusually for a team visiting the pod Dubňom in recent times, Bystrica gained fair reward for an enterprising display. The game has, however, clouded certain team-selection issues ahead of the Marseille clash. Piaček and Pečalka will probably keep their places, though both need to improve dramatically. Lubomír Guldan had another outing at right-back last night ; little surprise, then, that Bystrica’s left-sided midfielder Tomáš Hučko seemed to enjoy himself. Guldan should play in central midfield or not at all. The midfield showed plenty of creativity against Bystrica but neither Robert Jež nor Štefan Zošák are renowned for their defensive steel. With Issiako Bello still, apparently, injured, Guldan could take on the role of holding-midfielder. Up front, Oravec and Tomáš Majtán, who also has a recent league hat-trick to his name, should retain their starting berths. Momodou Ceesay had 35 minutes as Majtán’s replacement last night but things didn’t quite go right for him.

Off the field, it was good to have the fan-club back. They have clearly been rehearsing some new chants during their absence and supplied the atmosphere that was so badly lacking at the Dunajská Streda game. The attendance was still deeply disappointing, though. Officially, there were 3,418 there but it didn’t look as many as that to me. Meanwhile, the Marseille game, despite sensible ticket-prices, is still not sold-out. Continuing bitterness over the Chelsea prices and an increasing realisation that, even if they play to their full-potential, Žilina are out of their depth in the group stages are possible reasons for this.

But, in an attempt to retain some optimism ahead of Wednesday night, I have come up with a three-point plan which, if carried out, will ensure success :

  1. Do everything possible to make sure the fan-club attend.
  2. Invite Jaromír Nohavica into the dressing-room before the game.
  3. Do not play Guldan at right-back.

Prediction : Žilina 2 Marseille 1.

Written by James Baxter

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Oct 29 2010

Matchday 14 Preview

Published by under Uncategorized

In a 12 team-league, almost every week is an interesting week.  Read my preview of Corgon Liga Matchday 14 here:

http://www.thedaily.sk/2010/10/29/top-news/corgon-league-match-previews/

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Oct 28 2010

Slovak Cup 1/4 Final Draw

Published by under Domestic,Pohar

TJ Spartak Myjava (II. liga) – ŠK Slovan Bratislava (Corgoň liga (CL)
MFK Tatran Liptovský Mikuláš (I. liga) – MŠK Žilina (CL)
FC Nitra (CL) – FC ViOn Zlaté Moravce (CL)
MFK Ružomberok (CL) – FC Spartak Trnava (CL)

My first reaction on seeing this draw was that it had a ‘seeded’ feel to it.  Surely the big names will be happy with the draw, but then again, perhaps the smaller teams may also not be complaining.

2nd Division Spartak Myjava will host holders Slovan Bratislava and the other non- Corgon Liga outfit, Liptovský Mikuláš host MŠK Žilina in what must be something of ‘Northern derby’ (although I just noticed the towns are 88km apart).  That match takes place a week later than the others (due to Zilina’s Champions League commitments) on 10th November and promises to be quite a day/night for the hosts.  I’m pretty sure a train connects the two towns (I’m sure James will correct me if I’m wrong) and quite possibly Zilina will take a large contingent of fans with them on this trip.  The question is how seriously do they take the cup this season especially with the Champions League still in full swing at this time.  I think I wrote it in one of my early Cup preview pieces and I have no reason to change my mind (although I admit to sometimes getting tempted by the long odds of their opponents!) - I still think this might be Zilina’s season for the league+cup double.

Scanning the map, I also wonder if some of the Slovan fans’ buddies from across the border in Brno might be tempted to rock up at Myjava.  We’ll see how that plays out, but the hosts look strong in the cup this season, already having eliminated 2 top flight teams in Dubnica and Senica.  Slovan should progress easily against largely amateur opposition although you never know!

Spartak Trnava will definitely fancy their chances against a Ruzomberok side struggling for form, but as we’ve already seen with Trnava they need to concentrate on consistency as if they have a bad night it could all be over.  I’m pretty sure Trnava really want to win the cup this season.

Nitra and ViOn presumably will also look at the draw thinking that it could be better or it could be worse; either of these teams stands a good chance to progress to the semis.  I fancy ViOn might just add some more strength to @eredivisielife ‘s claim that they are dark horses to the cup this season.

Personally I can see this heading towards a semi-final draw consisting of Zilina, Slovan, Spartak & ViOn.  It’s an interesting competition with high-stakes (Silverware and a Europa League qualification place) and here on the blog we’ll be following with interest what happens next .. first matches next week Tuesday  - 2nd November (hardly a lot of time to prepare!)

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Oct 27 2010

European Football Weekends does AS Trencin

Published by under Domestic

Any readers of the blog who are not following @DannyLast and his wonderful website European Football Weekends are strongly recommended to check it out.  Last weekend a group of 30-odd lads ‘did’ Hungary and Slovakia.

The following link takes you to a wonderful article describing what has to be one of the most dramatically situated football grounds in Europe, AS Trencin and is well worth a click:

http://europeanfootballweekends.blogspot.com/2010/10/as-trencin.html

And this takes you to another fantastic article where Danny gives his [very favourable] opinions of the EFW experience behind the goal with the Spartak Trnava Ultras:

http://europeanfootballweekends.blogspot.com/2010/10/spartak-trnava.html

Great work Danny, really hope EFW decides to come back to Slovakia!

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Oct 27 2010

Farcical Fences

Published by under Domestic

I would be very interested to hear an explanation of the value of these fences, currently in use at Pasienky Stadium.  This picture shows travelling MSK Zilina fans celebrating their team’s goal against Slovan Bratislava last weekend, and supports my arguments put across in the Spartak Trnava debate.  The fences were put in place for the Slovan v Red Star Europa League qualifier back in August and we still see them in use at Corgon Liga matches held at this stadium.  This despite the fact that fans regular climb on the fences bending and damaging the lightweight metal creating potentially more dangerous situations than before.  Maybe I see this wrong, but to me if somebody wanted to get on the pitch, these fences are not going to stop them.  Ridiculous.

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Oct 26 2010

Partizan Belgrade

Published by under European

A bit off track for this blog, but today I discovered the following podcast and youtube video.  I strongly believe that this is a ‘must-listen’ podcast for any football fan who loves the game of football and wants to know more about its value in different countries & cultures.  The podcast from “Beyond the Pitch” is simply perfectly pitched, and wow, these guys know what they are talking about.  Absolutely brilliant stuff!

I have been to a Partizan Belgrade match and was infected by the club since that day.   I was sitting alone in a cafe drinking a beer and started talking to a young guy who was going to the game with his girlfriend.  I said I just wanted to sit in the ‘normal’ seats and he replied, “no chance, you’re coming with us and the rest of the Grobari”.  I got my hair singed by flares, almost had to take over the waving of one of their massive flags and it was an absolutely amazing experience, not on the scale of what you can see on this youtube video, but I knew that I was discovering something unique & very special.

Listening to this interview just proves that, on so many levels:

http://www.beyondthepitch.net/podcasts/edition/index.cfm/beyond-the-pitch/2010/10/22/partizan-belgrade/

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AreVrhMfW7k

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Oct 24 2010

Spartak Trnava 0-0 ViOn Zlate Moravce

Published by under Domestic

An unusually large contingent of foreign football fans were present at Spartak Trnava yesterday.  One of them, James Baxter describes his first visit to one of Slovakia’s best supported clubs and in doing so provides a fascinating interpretation of the good and bad sides of the Trnava fans.

James also touches on how the portrayal of the Trnava fans in the media influences opinions amongst the general public and makes a poignant comparison with the highly devoted fans of another well known club in Slovakia, who have a very different way of showing support for their team.

It seems strange, being a football fan and having lived in Slovakia for over seven years, never to have visited the Štadion Antona Malatinského in Trnava, one of the country’s most famous grounds. I’m not a groundhopper but I do enjoy visiting different venues and this one, close to Trnava railway station on the main line between Bratislava and Košice, is among the more accessible. I also like big crowds, noise and colour and Trnava, at least when the team is hinting at doing well, provides these things, more so than just about any other ground in Slovakia.

One reason I’ve never been to Trnava is the slight loss of enthusiasm for new adventures that comes with both getting older and being in a place for a bit too long. But more than that, it’s because there’s something about Spartak Trnava and, more specifically, some of their fans, along with the way they’re covered in much of the Slovak media, that I just don’t like very much. The reason for this distaste was underlined in Senica last week. The events there have already been covered by Britski Belasi and, since I wasn’t at the game myself, I’d prefer not to judge what went on. But I was struck by how many references to the behaviour of the visiting fans in the sports sections of the newspapers here were tempered with sentiments such as ‘but, of course, the Trnava fans are the best in the country’ or ‘the Spartak fans supported their team brilliantly all afternoon’. It was even written in Šport that the home players ‘must have been jealous of the backing the Trnava team was given’.

Similar things were written in May 2008, after Trnava’s defeat to Petržalka in the final of the Slovak Cup, a match staged in Žilina. I attended as a neutral and, believe me, it was a frightening experience. About 3,000 Trnava fans made the trip, compared to 100 or so from Petržalka, and they completely filled the old the east stand. As the game wore on it became clearer and clearer that a number of Trnava fans (a good 300 or so – a minority but hardly a tiny minority) were intent on serious trouble. They began ripping seats out and using them as missiles and started spilling onto the perimeter track to fight with police. The atmosphere became so threatening that Petržalka players barely celebrated their victory on the pitch once the final whistle had been blown. On the way out of the ground, Trnava fans wrecked a refreshment kiosk, damaged numerous cars and continued fighting with police and security men. Little wonder, I thought, that so few Petržalka fans had bothered to travel ; they probably knew what was coming and had no wish to become the victims of aggression.

A definite problem for me is that the Slovak media often seem unable to differentiate between displays of passion which occasionally spill over (waving flags and singing at the top of your voice, then spilling onto the perimeter track to celebrate a winning goal, for example) and wanton acts of destruction and violence. The latter has to be condemned out of hand and too often it isn’t. After the cup final incidents, it was depressing to read in Šport that the numbers of supporters the two sides had at the game showed how Trnava fans were so much more passionate than Petržalka’s. What they should have been writing was that the behaviour displayed is actually the reason many decent Slovak people can’t stand the game of football.
The past antics of Trnava fans have not stopped me wanting to visit the Anton Malatinský stadium, they have simply meant that I’ve been prepared to wait for an unmissable opportunity to come along, rather than going out of my way. And that unmissable opportunity arrived yesterday. The logistical details are tedious but, in essence, the visit of EFW to Slovakia, together with the perfectly timed arrival of a friend from the UK, meant I had no excuse for keeping Trnava waiting any longer. Even the game, against newly-prmoted surprise packages Zlaté Moravce, was an intriguing prospect.

Zlaté Moravce have reminded me a little this season of my favourite  English team, West Bromwich Albion, in the way they have adapted better to the top-flight than most observers expected. Like most visitors to Trnava, they placed an early emphasis on caution, all their players getting behind the ball when Trnava had the ball. But their occasional forays forward showed promise and they became more adventurous in the second-half, dominating between the 45th and 75th minutes. Then, for some reason, they went on the defensive again for the final quarter of an hour, almost inviting Trnava to attack. The home side were impotent in front of goal, though, and the game ended as a 0-0 draw ; disappointing for the neutral perhaps but it was a better game than either of the two 0-0s I’ve seen in Žilina this season. Both sides might feel aggrieved by refereeing decisions. Trnava had what looked a good goal ruled out in the first-half, while Zlaté Moravce had  a strong penalty appeal turned down in the second.

Off the field, well it came as little surprise to me that Trnava fans showed their best and worst sides. Considering the ultras group was in an uncovered end, the volume of noise they produced was impressive. It never let up either ; when fans in some sections of the ground became agitated during Zlaté Moravce’s spell in the ascendency, the ultras simply got louder, as if to drown out the negativity. But, given that objects were thrown onto the pitch, including what looked like a glass bottle, following the disallowed goal, I cannot say that I left with only a positive impression of the home support. It was good to visit the ground and I hope it won’t be seven more years before my next visit. Yet I can’t say I’m desperate to get back there in the immediate future either.

Another reason I’m still sceptical about the claim that Trnava supporters are the best in Slovakia is that there is more than one way to show support. Noise and colour at matches are fine. Yes, I would like to see more of both and yes it would be a shame to see grounds like Trnava’s become sterile venues along modern-day English lines. But Petržalka fans have also been showing the way recently, most notably by putting in hours of unpaid work during the summer to ensure that their club’s temporary ground in Prievoz would be ready for use in the I Liga. With more genuine commitment like that, less aggression from the worst elements among the support of clubs such as Trnava and a greater recognition in the media of what it really means to be a fan, football in Slovakia would probably enjoy more popularity than it currently does.

Photos courtesy of ultrasspartak.sk

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Oct 23 2010

Corgon Liga: Matchday 13

Published by under Uncategorized

Slovan Bratislava 0-1 MSK Zilina

In the preview, I said this round of games would go a long way towards telling us how the rest of the season will shape up and that certainly appears to be the case as Zilina open up a significant lead at the top of the table.  Tomas Majtan continued his fine run of form and moves to the top of the scorers list with a 68th minute goal to secure victory for the Champions away in the capital.  3,680 spectators turned up at Pasienky which is about 3 times the average this season, but undoubtably a large proportion were from Zilina.  Slovan needed a result here to keep alive their hopes in the league this season, but this match seems to have provided evidence enough that the strength of Zilina’s squad is starting to grow away from the rest of the teams in Slovakia.  Zilina are showing the form of Champions while new Slovan coach Karel Jarolim has a big job on his hands to stop this season going from bad to worse.  Slovan need to make a plan and concentrate on securing the minimum expectation which now has to be European qualification.  Zilina move 6 points clear at the top and the signs from last week that they could run away with this year’s Championship grow stronger.

Spartak Trnava 0-0 ViOn Zlate Moravce

Even the presence of Danny Last’s European Football Weekends wasn’t enough to muster a goal out of this match.  4,637 fans were desperately willing their team to score the winner to keep up the pressure on Zilina but a determined performance from ViOn shows they are no pushover in the league this season and should be watched out for a possible dark horses in the cup.

FK Senica 1-1 Tatran Presov

You won’t stay in touch with the league leaders if you can’t beat relegation candidates at home and the fears over whether Senica can really hack the pace at the top prove well-founded.  A last minute penalty let Presov in for a bonus point here and allows Zilina an extra 2 points lead at the top.

FC Nitra 0-1 DAC Dunajska Streda

DAC good run of form continues with a fine away win at Nitra.  With 2 wins and 2 draws from their last 4 games, suddenly DAC fear of relegation has been transformed into hopes of keeping touch with those chasing the European places.

Dukla Banska Bystrica 4-1 Kosice

Kosice took a 1-0 lead here and you really wondered if they would surprise a victory against a Dukla side lacking form.  However the 2nd half was a complete turn around although 2 late goals from Dukla possibly give the scoreline an unbalanced look. Kosice’s problems continue to escalate, and it’s hard to see them turning this season around.  Dark days indeed for MFK Kosice.

MFK Ruzomberok 0-1 MFK Dubnica

Ruzomberok are another team struggling for form and Dubnica start to open up some daylight between themselves and the bottom 2 with another valuable 3 points.

League 1:

AS Trencin 2-1 FC Petrzalka 1898

Trencin are now 11 points clear at the top of the 1st Division and appear to be making light work of securing promotion to the Corgon Liga in record time.  This promised to be a major test for Trencin, but they secured the victory which leaves Petrzalka with a mountain to climb if they are to have any chance of bouncing straight back to the top league after last season’s relegation.

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Oct 23 2010

Petrzalka in Photos

Published by under Domestic

To compliment Ian Cusack’s piece below and also James Baxter’s article in this month’s edition of When Saturday Comes magazine, here are a few photos (click to enlarge) to give an impression of the current situation with football in Petrzalka:

Firstly, both James & Ian refer to the former ground of Artmedia Petrzalka with affection.  The Stary Most (old bridge) Stadium is situated in parkland on the Petrzalka (rather than Bratislava) side of the banks of the river Danube.

The scene of two domestic Championship successes, some fantastic matches must have been played here.   Proper football grounds like this are sadly lacking in Slovakia, especially in Bratislava.  Sadder still, Stary Most was sold for redevelopment, but as is also the case with Tehelne Pole, the former National and Slovan stadium, politics and the recession got in the way and the ground remains in the condition seen below.

The new FC Petrzalka 1898 owners, Jozef Venglos Jr included, promise a return to Petrzalka for the team hopefully by 2013. Those with memories of football in this place must be full of anticipation for the Petrzalka home-coming.

When Ivan Kmotrik, the former owner of Petrzalka, decided to buy Slovan Bratislava instead and took most of the good players with him, it was the start of a steady decline for the black and whites.  This happened during a period when Inter Bratislava also ceased to exist after being bought out by a business consortium organised by the town of Senica, leaving football fans in Bratislava seriously disenchanted with the state of the club football in the capital.  Petrzalka were forced out of Stary Most and were left with no choice but to play their matches  at Pasienky Stadium on the other side of the city. Attendances were pitiful and the team became a shadow of their former-selves (2 times domestic Champions, Slovakia’s last Champions League entrants before MSK Zilina this season).

The following photo is one of my own, and shows the turn-out of Petrzalka fans for last season’s ‘derby’ with Slovan, the last to be held at Tehelne Pole stadium (yes there are around 5 people there):

Away end Petrzalka

Anyway, the club was rather unsurprisingly relegated at the end of last season, and as mentioned by James in his article are enjoying something of  rejuvenation in the 1. Division.  The newly named, newly owned FC Petrzalka 1989 are for this season at least, playing their home games at another tiny ground in the Prievoz district of Bratislava.  Crowds are up and performances are too, today’s big game away at Trencin will go someway towards telling us whether they stand a chance of bouncing straight back up or whether they may have to wait another season, you fear the latter, but perhaps this is no bad thing for a club clearly rebuilding from scratch.

Ian, James and myself are all more-than interested followers of the recovery of Petrzalka and let’s hope that it is not too long before we see them return to the top flight, playing their football a new stadium in their own district in front of decent crowds .. perhaps then there will be hope of a serious Bratislava derby.

For much more detail on this story, I strongly recommend you to pick up November’s copy of WSC (Issue 285).

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