Dec 22 2011

Slovakia Footballing Review of the Year 2011

Published by at 4:37 pm under Uncategorized

There’ll probably be plenty of publications and blogs doing a review of the year in whatever their field of interest is, so I thought I’d have a go at one for Slovak football. The format – the best, the worst, and hopes for 2012 – is influenced by When Saturday Comes.

Best

Let’s be honest, 2011 was hardly a vintage year. In fact, I’d say that only those associated with Slovan Bratislava would even dignify it with the word ‘good’. Slovan won the 2010/2011 Corgoň Liga title with ease, thanks to a spring surge of 14 wins from 15 matches and are handily placed, just one point behind Žilina, as the current season enters the winter break. They also performed reasonably well in Europa League Group F, their first ever experience of a European group stage, but were unable to improve on their greatest result of the year – the remarkable aggregate victory over AS Roma in the final round of qualifying back in August.

Elsewhere, Trenčín, who secured the 2010/2011 I Liga title and had a decent enough autumn back in the Corgoň Liga, will be happy with their year. So will Zlaté Moravce, a small-town club with an excellent coach and ever-improving team. And Miroslav Karhan’s signing for Trnava  has not only been key to his side figuring prominently in the title race, it has also provided fans with a player who justifies the admission money all by himself.

But the best moment of the year for me was Karim Guédé’s selection for the Slovak national team. The significance of this is mainly symbolic for now but Guédé definitely justifies his inclusion for his commitment and ability ; hopefully Slovakia will benefit from his on-field presence over the coming years. In any case, the symbolism is no small thing in itself, considering that this is the country associated with one of the most notorious incidences of football-related racism of the current millennium.

Worst

Guédé apart, the national team have provided little to feel positive about. Amongst other defeats, they have been embarrassed in the fog by Luxemburg and thrashed at home by unheralded Armenia. Two of the three games they did manage to win were against Andorra and both were depressingly poor affairs. Talk of disunity in the camp never quite went away, nor did rumours that coach Vladimír Weiss has his favourites. Towards the end of the year, there was even speculation about Weiss’s own future, though, for reasons we’ll come to, the SFZ can hardly afford to sack him. Slovakia is, as Weiss likes to remind us, a small country and probably should not expect qualification for every major tournament, yet there is a definite sense that a lot of the good work he and his players did in getting to the last 16 of the 2010 World Cup has been allowed to go to waste.

The poor financial state of the game also raises concern. Ján Kovačík, president of the national association (SFZ), admitted this week that cash-flow is such a problem that only ‘essential’ costs – including the salaries of lower-paid employees – can currently be met. Weiss himself has not been paid for four months. The national stadium project is, needless to say, as far from realisation now as it has ever been. Kovačík even suggested that, if (and ‘if’ is the key word here too) Slovan owner Ivan Kmotrík gets round to building a ground for his club, the SFZ may abandon its own stadium plans. Economic strife at the SFZ also has echoes at two of Slovakia’s better-known clubs ; DAC Dunajská Streda and Petržalka have both been unable to pay their players over the last few months.

But my worst moment of 2011 came in early April, courtesy of Žilina fan Ľubomír Krajčík. His assault on assistant referee Roman Slyško, which led to the premature abandonment of the Žilina-Slovan fixture, was the sort of act of violence that has no place at any sporting venue. The aftermath – including attempts by Žilina players to persuade Slyško and his fellow officials to continue the game, the ham-fisted attempt at an ‘explanation‘ by owner Jozef Antošík and the bizarre apology made by referee Pavol Chmura for two marginal decisions which went against Žilina during the game – was equally dispiriting. And the fact that Krajčík is still allowed to attend matches shows the lack of seriousness with which the authorities view such incidents.

Hopes

It would be deluded to hope for progress on a national stadium so I won’t linger on that question. Hopefully, it’s not too much to ask that the national team start entertaining us and enjoying their football again, whether or not it’s under Weiss.

As for the Corgoň Liga, I would like to see a closely-fought championship race with the best team prevailing fairly, and a lot less talk of conspiracies than was heard last season. One thing that might help raise the standard of domestic football would be at least some of the Slovan players who figured in the Europa League agreeing to stay with the club. Younger team-mates might learn from their experience and opponents would have to raise their games against them. And if a Slovak club could progress to a group stage when next autumn comes round, it would improve a record that’s already beginning to look quite respectable. After Artmedia (2005) and the Žilina teams of 2008 and 2010, Slovan this year became the fourth Slovak side in seven years to still be playing European football in December. Perhaps even more important than any of the above is that Petržalka and DAC secure their immediate futures.

Finally, whatever is ahead of us football-wise in 2012, I hope it will be a happy year for all readers.

James Baxter

4 responses so far




4 Responses to “Slovakia Footballing Review of the Year 2011”

  1.   George Mon 22 Dec 2011 at 5:29 pm

    ~Best?? Let’s be honest ??Slovan …They also performed reasonably well in Europa League ???~

    Slovan got ONE point and were out totally played by every other team …even PSG played with 9 men and looked more likely to score ! ….think you are bit blind there James and still rosie tinted glass eyed after the Roma away result .

    Worst …`Guédé apart, the national team have provided little to feel positive about. Amongst other defeats, they have been embarrassed in the fog by Luxemburg and thrashed at home by unheralded Armenia. Two of the three games they did manage to win were against Andora~

    I agree, quite a pathetic performance after the win against Russia as for Guede , I feel his connection to Slovakia will end soon as he is now a citizen and he will be going the gold rush to Turkey, or some other out of the way place where Slovak footballers go to niff coke or get stoned .

    ~Progress on a national stadium .~.. There is more chance of Jan Slota eating humble pie with the SMK, than there is that even happening in my lifetime . To many cooks to spoil the bribes .

    Have a fine Christmas James and the same to Dan …I just hope he manages to remove that Britski union flag from his ass-ole..and start writing something that is less like the Dan-dy comic .

  2.   Jameson 22 Dec 2011 at 6:34 pm

    Slovan had a crap 45 mins in Salzburg and looked clueless (and knackered) when PSG were down to 9. Otherwise, they competed, that’s all I’m claiming. I’m not trying to suggest they were really better than the other teams and should be in the last 32.

    Guede – I’d say it’s about 70-30 that he’ll leave Slovan for a foreign club. But, with 4 appearances for SK, he’s not going to be playing for anybody else’s national team.

    Happy Christmas and New Year to you too George. No doubt we can look forward to further differences of opinion in 2012.

  3.   George Mon 24 Dec 2011 at 10:00 am

    Before I step on my plane to sunnier climates , I had a very interesting discussion with some Slovaks last evening, over the national football stadium . In short, ( and after the 5th pivo) to them it was matter of national pride that they build some 8th wonder to show the world footballing what they could do ???….to me, it was a matter of building a stadium that was practical and cost effective …How many grade A games do Slovakia play a year, and Slovakia are still a grade C team themselves . The ground hardly need executive area for sponsors or company boxes ?? Other than football, what else would happen there ? …perhaps the odd pop concert , but the big stars currently tend to avoid Ba and go to Prague or Budepest !!

    I mean Žilina and Petržalka built cheap, effective seating based on a Meccano style stado and I am sure this kind of method could be made up to accommodate 35,000 fans. Ok the gaps beneath the stands …these could be filled in, with something given time and one side of the ground could be first made up for gym, changing area, SFA and Slovan offices and warm up area ?? The steel job could be sub`ed out to Kosice, who are working short time next year …it is a win , win , win …Does Slovakia really need the cost of a Chinese Birds Nest ….or a metal Rainbow like Wembley ?

  4.   StaryJazvecon 25 Dec 2011 at 8:11 pm

    RE: national stadium.

    Any state monies for NS wld be paid by Ministry of Edn. Current Min of Ed has said, I paraphrase slightly: We will have a NS building competition, Nitra and Trnava can enter. State will pay f*ck all, to ensure value for money, avoid a national ice hockey taxpayers-get-shafted-royally situation and so we dont have to cut the school’s budget…and I expect the NS will be up and running in 2014.

    http://www.futbalsfz.sk/slovensko/zaujimavosti/novinka/ministerstvo-skolstva-predstavilo-koncepciu-vystavby-narodneho-futbaloveho-stadiona.html

    Does Mr. K have 50 mil. or can he get 50 mil. to build a big stadium? Would Mr. Fico shovel in cash if he wins in March? Would Mr. K settle for building stg more suitable for Slovan’s needs – maybe take over the new Zalka ground project, build a 3,000 seater there and then Tesco and flats at TP & Pasienky. We shall see.

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