Mar 04 2012

Corgon Liga Spring Season Finally Under Way

Published by at 6:58 pm under Uncategorized

I have a theory that what happens in the Corgoň Liga’s opening round of spring fixtures tends to have a bearing on how the major issues will be resolved in May, but it’s difficult to draw too many conclusions from last weekend’s games. The top four teams were all made to work hard in their respective home matches, but all duly won. Meanwhile, the bottom two, DAC Dunajská Streda and Prešov, both lost, leaving few clues as to which of them will end up in the relegation place.

It does now look a little safer to say that fifth-placed Vion Zlaté Moravce and sixth-placed Ružomberok, unluckily defeated at Trnava and Žilina respectively, will struggle to stay in the title race and that Košice, whose 1-0 win away to neighbours Prešov took them nine points clear of the bottom place, will almost certainly not go down. Otherwise, the weekend did not tell us a great deal.

Ahead of the Žilina-Ružomberok match, one thing that interested me was the likely impact of Žilina’s new signings, Togo captain Serge Akakpo and Portugese full-back Ricardo Nunez. It’s another theory of mine that the quality of foreign players at Corgoň Liga clubs is edging upwards. The winter transfers of Karim Guédé and Issa Koro-Kone to clubs in the top German and French leagues and the form of Mamadou Bagayoko in Slovan Bratislava’s Europa League campaign are decent evidence of this. And the performances of Issiaka Bello, Momodou Ceesay and, more recently, Jean Deza suggest that Žilina themselves are becoming pretty good at spotting genuine foreign talent.

For 45 minutes, however, it was Ružomberok who dominated. They took the lead after 18 minutes when Lukáš Greššák got a touch to an inswinging free-kick. Filip Serečin then missed a great chance to make it 2-0 when he ran clear of the defence but failed to clear ‘keeper Martin Krnáč with an attempted chip. With Juraj Vavrík and Tomáš Ďubek running the midfield for the visitors, Kenyan winger Patrik Oboya looking pacy and athletic, and Pavol Masaryk using his guile in attack, Žilina were barely in the game. They turned it round in the second-half, though. The key seemed to be a decrease in the number of long, high balls to Momodou Ceesay and an increased intensity to their pressing game. On 54 minutes, Oboya was panicked into fouling Stanislav Angelovič and Ceesay converted the penalty. Then, with 15 minutes to go, Tomáš Majtán scored the winner following a goalmouth scramble.

The new boys did indeed suggest that they have quality. Centre-back Akakpo does not look physically imposing, but he has impressive spring and won most of his aerial challenges. On the ground, he was always decisive, often committing himself to muscling in front of attackers to stop them shielding the ball – not the easiest thing to do against a player like Masaryk. Nunez, for his part, defended well and showed impressive speed when getting forward. With more games, and better understanding with their new team-mates, these two could establish themselves among the best of the league’s foreign imports.

Žilina’s overall performance (‘mixed, with elements of the very good and the bloody awful’ would be a fair description) seems to have been largely reflected in what their main rivals produced. Slovan went 1-0 down to a superbly-taken Dzon Delarge goal for DAC – ‘sleepy’ defending and goalkeeping were to blame, according to Vladimír Weiss – but recovered to win 3-1.

Vion had plenty of good chances at Trnava, including a penalty, but missed them all and were condemned to defeat when Miroslav Karhan’s last-minute free-kick caught ‘keeper Martin Kuciak out of position. Senica took an early lead against Nitra, were pegged back to 1-1 by Filip Moravčík’s long-range 64th minute goal, but secured victory with two late penalties. The win was overshadowed, though, when defender Petr Pavlík suffered severe concussion in a challenge with a Nitra attacker.

One thing that hasn’t changed much for Žilina or Senica is their poor numerical support. The official attendances at their games yesterday were 1,476 and 1,520 respectively. In Žilina’s case, this is partly the result of the latest in a sequence of fall-outs between the board and the fan-club over the former’s insistence on registering the names and addresses of people who buy tickets for the end stands. Slovan, by contrast, are trying to attract families to games by means of a dedicated zone in the ground and ‘one adult, one child’ tickets priced at just 3 Euros each. They were rewarded yesterday with a crowd of 3,350, a significant improvement on the turnouts for many of their autumn matches. The sunny weather probably helped, but good on the club anyway for showing some initiative. I’ve often thought that empty grounds and lack of atmosphere make Corgoň Liga football look worse than it really is. Hopefully then, the title-race will continue to be well-contested and the crowds will come back to all the grounds.
James Baxter

10 responses so far

10 Responses to “Corgon Liga Spring Season Finally Under Way”

  1.   StaryJazvecon 04 Mar 2012 at 10:57 pm

    My main boy Johnny Delarge looking totally rampant in those highlights.

    Other thoughts: I see they got those crappy tinfoil-on-a-stick flags out again. And f*ck me Weiss is difficult to understand, world champ in high-speed mumbling.

  2.   StaryJazvecon 04 Mar 2012 at 11:12 pm

    Horror tackle on Pavlík, I am reading, possibly ruptured knee ligaments.

  3.   StaryJazvecon 04 Mar 2012 at 11:15 pm

    Od 24. marca do 7.apríla uvidíme za 14 dní 5 ligových kôl. A v nich aj zápasy Slovan-Senica, Žilina-Slovan, Slovan-Trnava a Senica-Žilina.

  4.   StaryJazvecon 04 Mar 2012 at 11:22 pm

    One more, as my brain is buzzing.

    Why do these Slovak and Czech lads go to DAC? The chances of them getting paid – slim to non-existent. This guy has welshed on contracts again and again and again. A lot of profootballers will not be profootballers for much longer in this country, I guess.

  5.   Jameson 05 Mar 2012 at 1:46 pm

    Re Weiss’s comments, I picked up his verdict on Delarge’s goal, otherwise needed written form to make sense of them. I see that Ales Urbanek is one of DAC’s new signings. Remember him making his debut as a 19 year-old with Sigma Olomouc, and of course he played in Artmedia’s European campaigns too. You’d think he’d be a bit less wet behind the ears.

  6.   George Mon 06 Mar 2012 at 1:43 pm

    ~~~~I see that Ales Urbanek is one of DAC’s new signings. Remember him making his debut as a 19 year-old with Sigma Olomouc, and of course he played in Artmedia’s European campaigns too. You’d think he’d be a bit less wet behind the ears~~~~

    ………………..Or just ever more desperate ?

  7.   George Mon 08 Mar 2012 at 6:43 am

    Whilst we dither over crap Slovak football …Lets applaud Apoel of Cyprus , (who earlier KO`d Slovan ) as their Champions League fairytale continued with them knocking out French Lyon on penalties, to book a place in the quarter-finals.

    Great effort guys and just to show that with even as minnows, with limited resources and lots of real effort , you can make a real football team.

  8.   StaryJazvecon 08 Mar 2012 at 9:04 pm

    Has he topped “Ako som strelil goly”?

  9.   StaryJazvecon 09 Mar 2012 at 12:58 am

    Anyroad, I and Stary Most still up for Myjava – Zalka, Sat Ap 7, 15:00. Assuming we still exist, still fancy it JB? Georgie? I have noticed a bit of backsliding re: attendance from a certain newb, goddamn fair-weather ground-hoppers.

  10.   George Mon 09 Mar 2012 at 1:33 pm

    I may actually have a wander over to Ruzenov with the dog …the German Shepard may come as well for a walk. ( Ok, Old Joke)

    Depends on the weather S.J . My days of standing in a park, ankle deep in mud and with a minus 0C breeze blowing up my backside are long gone .

    Perhaps Dan will offer to come along and we can use him as a wind break or a bench to sit on . BTW , are you taking your boots along S.J , you may even get a game ?

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