Feb 20 2012

Latest News from the Slovak Football Scene

Published by at 7:33 pm under Uncategorized

There are two main news items to start the week. The first is Michal Hipp’s first selection as caretaker-coach of the Slovakia national team, for the away game with Turkey on Wednesday February 29th. The squad is listed below :

Goalkeepers :Ján Mucha (Everton), Dušan Perniš (Dundee United).

Defenders :Peter Pekarík (Kayserispor), Kornel Saláta (FK Rostov), Martin Škrtel  (Liverpool) Tomáš Hubočan (Zenit St Petersburg), Marek Čech (Trabzonspor), Radoslav Zabavník (FSV Mainz).

Midfielders :Michal Breznaník (Slovan Liberec), Kamil Kopúnek (Slovan Bratislava), Juraj Kucka (Genoa), Róbert Jež (Polonia Warsaw), Marek Hamšík (Napoli), Vladimír Weiss (Espanyol), Miroslav Stoch (Fenerbahce).

Forwards :Filip Hološko (Besiktas), Marek Bakoš (Viktoria Plzeň), Stanislav Šesták (Gaziantepspor)

Most striking is the inclusion of two new faces, in Breznaník and Bakoš. The Liberec midfielder’s selection can be taken as evidence of the rehabilitation his career has undergone since Slovan Bratislava effectively ‘sacked’ him following his red card in a Europa League qualifier away to Stuttgart in August 2010. He has since scored 14 goals in 38 games for Liberec, the latest coming in a 3-1 win over Hradec Králové the weekend just gone.

Bakoš, meanwhile, is an obvious choice, having impressed in European action for Plzeň this season. He too was on the scoresheet in domestic action at the weekend, hitting two goals in Viktoria’s 4-3 defeat of Teplice, and led the line superbly in last Thursday’s Europa League last 32 home leg against Schalke. As Hipp acknowledges, he is currently in better form than either Filip Hološko or Stanislav Šesták and thus must be favourite to start up front in Turkey.

It is perhaps worth pointing out that, with the exception of Hubočan, Saláta and Kopúnek, every member of this squad plays in a country whose domestic league has restarted after the winter break, or in one which doesn’t take a break at all. Match-fitness, therefore, should not be a problem for most. That even goes for Hubočan, who played in Zenit’s Champions League tie with Benfica last week. Of the omissions, those of Filip Šebo and Ján Ďurica could be put down to lack of recent competitive football. The absences of Freiburg pair Karim Guédé and Erik Jendrišek, both of whom featured in their side’s 0-0 draw with Bayern Munich on Saturday, are less easily explained. It is possible, however, that the former may still be settling in at his new club, while Jendrišek, like Hološko and Šesták, has been struggling for goals.

Perhaps the most interesting thing about the Turkey game will be the way Hipp approaches it. Will he adopt the sort of tactics we would have expected from his predecessor, or encourage the players to show more sense of adventure? Whatever the answer, he doesn’t have a great deal to lose. His team will not be favourites to win the game and his own future is not going to be decided one way or the other by the result. He is highly unlikely to be offered the coach’s job on a permanent basis (and appears not to want it anyway) and the question of the assistant’s position will be decided by factors other than the result of one friendly. Yet he could attract plenty of goodwill from the players if they feel a more relaxed spirit in the camp, and from the media if a decent performance is forthcoming.

We now know that the Turkey game will precede the first spring round of Corgoň Liga fixtures, after the matches scheduled for this weekend were unsurprisingly postponed following a meeting of the Union of League Clubs (ULK) on Monday. Even by its own standards, Slovakia has experienced extreme conditions this month. First, there was a spell of freezing weather, with temperatures as low as -20 Celsius several nights in succession in some areas. This was followed by heavy snow, some northern regions recording their worst falls since records began. A thaw is currently underway, especially in the south, but that simply means that waterlogged pitches are now a danger. Of the six clubs due to stage home games this weekend, four (Zlaté Moravce, Nitra, Ružomberok and Banská Bystrica) stated clearly that they were in favour of a postponement, while Košice and Dunajská Streda also said they would have found it difficult to get their pitches ready.

The first games of the spring will now take place on the weekend of March 2nd-4th. Tuesday March 27th is the new date for the postponed fixtures.

The ULK appear to have taken the only sensible decision on offer here. Yet again, though, I can’t help thinking that the whole episode is just another argument in favour of something that’s never going to happen ; Slovakia’s adoption of a Spring-Autumn (eg March-November) football season.

James Baxter


13 responses so far

13 Responses to “Latest News from the Slovak Football Scene”

  1.   George Mon 20 Feb 2012 at 9:28 pm

    …….The first is Michal Hipp’s first selection as caretaker-coach of the Slovakia national team.

    Oh Dan, Dan where art thou Dan ? Still pickin the wrong horses .

  2.   Jameson 21 Feb 2012 at 6:58 am

    ‘Still pickin the wrong horses.’

    That’s not true, or it’s premature at best. Blame the original article, which should have made clear that Hipp will be in charge in a caretaker capacity till summer. SFZ don’t need the new guy before then – or, more accurately, don’t have the money to pay him these few months’ salary. To say nothing of likely compensation to his club. It really doesn’t seem that Hipp’s a serious candidate to get the job long-term, though you never know…

    As I said, I’m curious as to what Hipp will do differently from Weiss. He says ‘not a lot’, but I guess the atmosphere in the squad will be different for a start. This selection seems to steer a diplomatic course between loyalty to Weiss’s chosen ones and giving chances to new players.

    Always interesting – and not only in football – to see what happens when the boss disappears into the sunset and the long-term assistant takes over….

  3.   Kirstenon 21 Feb 2012 at 10:16 am

    Might as well be adventurous — what is there to lose?

    I’m keeping an eye on Kosicky in goal for Catania. He’s got potential, and at least he gets more starts than Mucha. Plus, it might be nice to have a keeper that has experience beyond the British Isles.

  4.   Jameson 21 Feb 2012 at 11:23 am

    Will you be watching Kirsten? Not sure yet which channel’s gonna show it here it in SK – and I’m not a huge fan of friendlies anyway. But agree, wd be nice to see Mr Hipp giving it a go.

  5.   George Mon 21 Feb 2012 at 7:28 pm

    James , very nice of you to defend Dan`s stupidity.

    As I stated , Hipp had been offered the job ….full time . Not sure I would want it either ..

    ……….and I’m not a huge fan of friendlies anyway. But agree, wd be nice to see Mr Hipp giving it a go.

    ahahahahah ! Giving it a go .?????……who in the Slovak line up is going to score ???? Skirtel has more chance than most of the forward line and that assumes Slovakia can force a corner ?…I am hoping Sebo gets a late call up , at least he can give us all a good laugh, and a talking point when he plays his normal game of hiding a yard behind the last defender , or totally scuffs or sky`s a shot from 6 yards out of an open goal .

  6.   George Mon 22 Feb 2012 at 10:56 am

    A little off topic but , what the hell …….

    Did anyone see the Naples v Chelsea game last night and Hamsik`s 35 million euro performace ???

    No, neither did I !

  7.   Jameson 22 Feb 2012 at 12:59 pm

    The Guardian reporter seemed to like him :


    I felt, as so often, that he showed nice touches but flitted in and out. Good awareness to set up what really should have been the fourth goal, though. Will Napoli regret not putting that chance away?

    And what must Cavani and Lavezzi be worth?

  8.   George Mon 22 Feb 2012 at 6:11 pm

    I dont actually rate Cavani , blows rather too hot and cold and the poor guy will not be arround for long I feel, as he will soon have a heart attack if he shows all that over emotion, when he scores a goal from only 2 yards . Lavezzi I feel could be a real star ….but something is missing from his play ,,,,not really got what that is yet ?…I note he was quickly sub`ed just after the 3rd goal .

    AVB claims he picked the right team …….in your dreams, pal, in your dreams .

  9.   Kirstenon 23 Feb 2012 at 1:11 pm

    In regards to Napoli — Lavezzi was subbed because our assistant coach was on the bench, and he chose a defensive substitution. Hamsik…well, many people who stop by this site know my feelings on Hamsik, but he really provides much of the vision for the team. He’s not got the sparkle of Pocho and Cavani, but his passing is perfect and he can get shots in from tight angles.

    James — I’ll be watching the friendly if I can get a stream. Interested to see what is trotted out to face Turkey.

  10.   George Mon 23 Feb 2012 at 6:37 pm

    Kirsten ……..are you blind ??? ( best said in a French Accent )

    Hamsik is a donkey . overrated, overpaid numbscull and if he did not have that mad, ridiculous haircut, noone would notice him on the pitch. I have seen Frank Leboeuf , ….he who `won the `98 World Cup on his own for France `have better games .

    I note with interest ,James`s comments over an Article of the match , in The Guardian newspaper. A one liner comment of `Hamsik `, mentioned with the two goal scorers, inside a huge report on the game hardly means the guy was the loved as the team conductor .

  11.   George Mon 27 Feb 2012 at 10:45 pm

    Jesus , this is meant to be a soccer discussion forum, not a seaside beauty contest …Why all the daft `thumbs up & down ` ? Another doomed idea from Desperate Dan after the failed , ` let`s pick the weeks Slovak teams results and scores ` ….

  12.   britskibelasion 28 Feb 2012 at 10:34 am

    Must admit I don’t know where the changes are coming from, I’m on holiday without regular internet connection to sort it out. Please bear with me on this one…

  13.   britskibelasion 04 Mar 2012 at 7:06 pm

    The host site is going through a phase of transition and it seems one thing that sneaked in without our knowledge was this article / comment rating plugin. As much as I’d enjoy rating your comments George, I don’t think that will do our relationship much good, so for now I’ve tried to deactivate them. Sorry if this affected your enjoyment of the site.

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