Jun 20 2011

Disappointing draws for Slovak sides

Well, what an anticlimax that was:

ŠK Slovan Bratislava (SVK) v FC Tobol Kostanay (KAZ)

was pretty much the worst draw we could have hoped for in terms of travel potential.  Kostanay is in the North of Kazakshtan, 8,574 km from Bratislava by road, or 2 flight connections away.  I was seriously intending to travel to the away leg of Slovan’s Champions League 2nd qualifying round tie, but had been quoted several times over the last week or so as saying “anywhere but Kazakhstan”.  Don’t get me wrong, I know it must be a lovely and fascinating country to visit but it will be very hard for Slovan’s fans to justify an outlay as big as this and the time, effort and hassle of getting there.  I will be very interested to see what the club propose as travel options for the fans, maybe there will be seats available on the official charter flight for anyone wishing to travel, but I really struggle to see any other possible way of making the trip.  Slovan fans generally do road or rail trips.  They go en masse to places like Amsterdam, Mostar or Belgrade.  They generally don’t do intercontinental flights to somewhere which is up there with your Novosibirsks in terms of travel and neither should they be expected to in all honesty.  The cost of a trip to Kazakhstan from Bratislava will probably be in the region of 3 or 4 times your average Slovak monthly salary.

Stadium in Kostanay which holds 8,050 people.

I suppose to be at least slightly pragmatic about the situation, at this stage of the Champions League one should either hope for a plum tie with easy travel scope for the fans or a tie against a team you really should be able to beat convincingly.  Obviously I know nothing about FC Tobol [their fans are more than welcome to comment on this article] and I shouldn’t patronise them by talking about something I don’t know, but surely Slovan will be the favourites here.  One tweet came in this afternoon:

“if it’s any consolation tobol have had a terrible season, they look like a flash in the pan side, ala b’burn in 94/95″ thanks to @MWroundtheworld for that.  Maybe we could have an explanation of how a team who are in the Champions League had a terrible season – they are Champions I guess, or is Kazakhstan on a different schedule to the main European leagues?

A quick check of Wikipedia tells us that Tobol have hosted Austria Wien [1-0], Galatasaray [1-1] and Zrinjski Mostar [1-2] in recent seasons.  Judging by those results, I suppose it will be your typical “not an easy place to get a result” although Slovan dispatched Mostar in the previous season’s Champions League.  What will obviously be essential will be to take maximum benefit from home advantage in the first leg, and try to open up an unassailable lead to take away the week after.  Sandwiched inbetween matches against AS Trencin and FK Senica in the league, this task must not be underestimated by Slovan otherwise they run the risk of losing ground in the Corgon Liga and an early exit from Europe.  Not what we want.

Now to the other Slovak sides who were in today’s Europa League draws:

FC Spartak Trnava (SVK) v FK Zeta (MNE)  – EL 1st qualifying round

Trnava, a side with decent European pedigree over the years, may be reasonably happy with this.  Zeta played Rangers in the 07/08 Champions League qualifying, but apart from that have only played 3 other European ties, most recently losing to Interblock Ljulbljana and FC Dacia Chişinău of Moldova.  Trnava to Golubovci where Zeta play is roughly 1,000 km so this could be road-trip territory for Trnava’s fans, if they decide to follow their team this season.  I would expect Trnava to qualify here, and see them progress to the 2nd round where they would face KF Tirana of Albania in a largely identical trip to the Zeta one.  Western Europe will have to wait a little while longer for the visit of Trnava’s notorious supporters.

After hosting Sparta Prague, Chelsea, Marseille and Spartak Moscow last season, a slightly different opponent can be expected by Žilina this time around:

KR Reykjavík (ISL)/ÍF Fuglafjørdur (FRO) v MŠK Žilina (SVK) – Europa League 2nd qualifying round

Either Iceland or the Faroe Islands for Žilina then.  Will the fans travel there?  A few might, as they did to Malta last season, but this must also be considered a slight anticlimax for the team who made last season’s Champions League group stage.  I would think Žilina will be concentrating on getting a good start in the league and negotiating this tie with the least of hassle.  Once again, obviously I know very little about their opponents but would think Žilina would consider themselves favourites.

So to sum up, a real mixed bag of ties for the Slovak teams this time around.  Slightly disappointing for the fans, but that won’t matter if all 3 clubs progress.  FK Senica enter the Europa League in the 3rd qualifying round and must be quite glad to avoid the hassle [and cost] of one of these obscure away ties.

Britski Belasi follows the fortunes of Slovak football, domestically and internationally.  My own preferences lie with Slovan Bratislava, and regular contributor James Baxter is an MSK Zilina fan.  We would be absolutely delighted to hear from fans of any of the above mentioned clubs.  Please don’t hesitate to drop us a comment below on how your team sees the draw, and how you fancy your chances against the Slovak sides!

Thanks, Dan Richardson


3 responses so far

3 Responses to “Disappointing draws for Slovak sides”

  1.   MWroundtheworldon 20 Jun 2011 at 6:42 pm

    The Kazakh league runs through the summer so Tobol are the 2010 champions, and they are really struggling this year. No relegation troubles but there’ll probably be lower half and not qualifying for Europe. Their title winning coach has gone too and they’ve bought in a a Russian, Sergei Petrenko. However it is pre season and very far away but that’s all Tobol seem to have going for them at the moment.

  2.   James Baxteron 20 Jun 2011 at 11:41 pm

    Still hard to see this as easy for Slovan – they’ll need a lead from the 1st leg to feel confident about the trip out there. Should be favourites but depends on getting things right from the start.

    I’m disappointed with Zilina’s draw, not so much the opposition as the fact that I’ll miss the home leg due to a UK trip! If I remember rightly, Olomouc struggled against Icelandic opposition last season so if, as you’d expect, it’s Reykjavik, it won’t be easy either.

    Would be up for a trip to Pasienky on the 13th/14th though, if you’ll have me….

  3.   Stary Jazvecon 07 Jul 2011 at 4:02 pm

    Right, am up for the Tobol game, altho E5 for the cheap seats is absolutely outrageous, I have signed up an erstwhile contributor to your august organ for this one, maybe we’ll go in the Kazakh end, do I understand correctly that the knowledgable Mr JB will be in town as well? Look forward to a beer and chat with you all.

Trackback URI | Comments RSS

Leave a Reply