Mar 01 2012

Turkey 1-2 Slovakia

Published by at 10:30 am under International and tagged:

Plenty of attention was focused on a national team which lost its first match under a caretaker coach on Wednesday night, but that’s enough about England. Slovakia, by contrast, did the unassuming Michal Hipp proud with a battling 2-1 victory over Turkey in Bursa.
It’s only fair to say that the Slovaks were probably in a less transitional state than their hosts, who appointed Abdullah Avci as their new supremo following defeat to Croatia in the Euro 2012 qualification play-offs and had made sweeping changes to their squad. Hipp, by contrast, retained much of the core of Vladimír Weiss’s team, but the adjustments he did make might have a positive significance for the longer term.
It was two talented youngsters, Vladimír Weiss Junior and Miroslav Stoch, who effectively won the match for Slovakia with superb first-half goals. Weiss beat half the Turkish team in a run from the right-wing to score the first after 24 minutes. 15 minutes later, Stoch, whose mohican haircut recalled a miniature version of Robert de Niro’s Taxi Driver character, cut in from the left and scored with a 20-yard shot. It might have taken a slight deflection on its way in but it was very much Stoch’s goal.
Turkey pulled a goal back with five minutes left to play thanks to some sleepy defending at a corner. That seemed to threaten a nervous close for Slovakia but it was actually they who came closest to scoring again, when substitute Filip Hološko forced a spectacular save from the home ‘keeper after combining with fellow replacement Stanislav Šesták.
Credit for an encouraging result and performance must go largely to Hipp. He appears to be a modest, uncharismatic type but he’s an accomplished tactician, as Weiss‘s tendency to rely on him for identifying opposition strengths and weaknesses had already shown. It could be said that the players were out to impress Pavel Vrba, who had discussions with the SFZ on Monday over the coach’s job, but if there has been a more relaxed atmosphere in the ranks these last few days, it can only reflect well on the temporary boss.
In pure footballing terms, Hipp did one or two things I wouldn’t have expected from Weiss. First, there was the decision to play Tomáš Hubočan in his natural position of centre-back, rather than at left-back. Then there were Marek Bakoš and Šesták, both of whom were given a chance at centre-forward. Weiss had seemed scornful of Bakoš’s claims but, while he did have a quiet debut, he surely does have an international future. Šesták, rather frozen out over recent months, looked eagar and lively during his second-half appearance, linking well with Weiss, Stoch and, later, Hološko.
It was only a friendly of course, and the performance did have its flaws. Ladislav Borbély, my favourite pundit (and not just for his heavy-metal hairstyle), outlined a few of these in his post-match analysis for STV. His first complaint was that the full-backs don’t get forward enough. That seems a little harsh on right-back Peter Pekarík but it’s probably true of Radoslav Zabavník. That said, the Mainz player is probably the best defender of all the Slovak full-backs. Borbély also pointed out that Slovakia lack ball-playing centre-backs, players who can start attacks from deep inside their own half. Weiss was also aware of this shortcoming ; it was the reason he fielded Miroslav Karhan in defence at home to Andorra last June.
Still, considering they have largely disappointed over the last few months, most of the signs were positive for Slovakia. If Vrba wants the coach’s job, he will have seen that he has some decent players to work with. And if Hipp stays in the set-up, there’ll be no shortage of expertise for the new appointment to draw upon.

James Baxter 

10 responses so far

10 Responses to “Turkey 1-2 Slovakia”

  1.   George Mon 01 Mar 2012 at 10:14 pm

    Christ it was only Turkey and whilst Slovakia played their `old folks`first eleven , bar a couple , Turkey are a side in transition .

    Still, they won and I guess it gave James some enormous pleasure …rather like going for a good poop in the morning .

  2.   Jameson 02 Mar 2012 at 7:54 am

    I said it was only a friendly, that Turkey are a side in transition and that Slovakia weren’t perfect.

    But ‘only’ Turkey? That insignificant country that bridges Europe and Asia, that has a population 15 times the size of Slovakia, probably more than 15 times as many professional footballers and where the game is enough to a religion to almost rival Islam itself?

    The quality of some of these Slovak players might be debatable but I can’t agree with ‘old folks’. Only two who were in the squad for Turkey have passed 30. Kucka, Hamsik, Weiss and Stoch are 25 or under. If these are ‘old folks’ George, I don’t know what that makes the likes of us.

  3.   StaryJazvecon 02 Mar 2012 at 1:14 pm

    Zabavník is a bit of a back-to-the-future selection, he’s ancient. Didnt recognize a single name in the Turkey line-up, I guess they are in transition. Superb goals? Nice Weiss slalom, but a weak strike, and hopeless keeping. Sorry to be a hater.

  4.   Jameson 02 Mar 2012 at 1:40 pm

    ‘..he’s ancient.’ Yeah, really ancient at 31. Hear they have to spoon-feed him down at the old folks’ home.

    Of course, it’s England who are the brave young things, battling against the odds with players barely out of nappies such as, oh yes, Gerrard, Parker, Barry, Cole etc etc.

  5.   StaryJazvecon 03 Mar 2012 at 10:52 am

    Had an idea he was 35/36, seems to have been around for ages. Ok then.

  6.   britskibelasion 04 Mar 2012 at 7:08 pm

    Zabavnik’s a good player, plenty of experience. Definitely think they should keep him in the set-up looking forward to the World Cup qualifying.

  7.   Jameson 04 Mar 2012 at 8:48 pm

    Me too. Very steady, can play either right-back or left-back, even defensive midfield at a push. In good form with Mainz as well. At the very least, he’s got one more qualification campaign in him.

  8.   George Mon 05 Mar 2012 at 7:31 am

    Lets get one this straight , to compare any other team to England is crap …We have a terrible history of playing `old boys`ever since since Alf Ram, in some English Media cause for experience over excitement, and about the only time youth had a chance was when we lost to Germany in the Italian world cup in the semi`s and a young Mr Gascoigne woke us all up .

    The term , Old Folks sorry , you misunderstood me , I meant same old names ….

    As for Turkey , well what have they ever done in football tournament World or European for country of their population size or football history ???….Most of their league games seem to be decided by betting scams, or bribes to the opposition team members , or refs ….no wonder so many Slovaks players are happy to play for Turkish teams . Just like being at home .

  9.   Jameson 05 Mar 2012 at 12:12 pm

    Turkey reached the semis of the 2002 WC and Euro 2008. Up to us whether we judge that as success.

    The point about England was partly to put the debate about whether this Slovak team can be described as ‘old folks’ into context. I agree that egos and vested interests have dominated in the England team for years, but the truth is that they still rolled out Barry, Parker, Gerrard etc to face Holland, and the English press was hailing the squad as fresh and young.

    Those Slovak players I mentioned in my first comment, plus Skrtel, Pekarik etc are fairly young AND have (relative) successes and failures behind them in international football. We can argue over their merits as players but I’d say they have a fairly rounded experience so far – and it would be daft to ditch them at this stage.

    Hipp could never have done that anyway, even if he’d wanted to. If he had, his years of loyalty to Weiss would have looked like a sham. What he could do was make the odd new selection, a positional adjustment or two and provide an atmosphere where the team felt a bit freer.

    Incredibly, it looks like Vrba has accepted the SFZ offer. Less than half what Weiss was on but still, you have to wonder how much of it he’ll see. Again, he’ll change one or two things, but there’s no way he’s going to put Skrtel, Hamsik etc out to pasture. Quite right too.

  10.   StaryJazvecon 06 Mar 2012 at 12:29 pm

    Vrba accepts SFZ offer story proves butlavá. Go Griga!

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