May 09 2012

Zilina 3-2 Senica, Cup Final

Published by at 4:32 pm under Domestic,Pohar


I still tend to the view that the SFZ are hopeless rather than malicious. But if they truly are on a mission to reduce interest in the final of the Slovak Cup, perhaps they should tell the competing teams to stop producing exciting matches. It was an excellent contest at Partizan Bardejov’s stadium on Tuesday, with Žilina finally winning their first ever domestic knockout trophy, 3-2 over Senica after extra-time.


The game had everything a final should ; two well-matched sides with contrasting styles, goals (three of which were beauties), saves and fine individual performances. The result means that Žilina’s Frans Adelaar can celebrate an honour, less than a month after his appointment as coach. Presumably, he will acknowledge that, to a large extent, he is reaping the fruits of others’ work with the team. Senica’s Stanislav Griga, meanwhile, cannot possibly fault the efforts of his players, but will be disappointed he is not going to end his club coaching career with a trophy.


Before 10 minutes were up, it was already 1-1. Tomáš Majtán headed Žilina in front after Peter Šulek had robbed Pedro Leal and crossed from the right. Tomáš Kóňa quickly replied with a curling 25-yard free-kick. Even by this stage, the sides were living up to stereotype. Senica were strong and physical, with Tomáš Strnad imposing himself and Jaroslav Diviš causing problems with his pace. Žilina, for their part, were trying to pass and move, mostly through captain Miroslav Barčík.


Barčík it was who put Žilina back in front three minutes into the second-half. He took Šulek’s pass, shuffled past a defender and thrashed the ball home from just outside the area. The goal ushered in his team’s best spell of the game, and they had chances to increase their lead. But Senica proved their durability by coming back into it again. With 18 minutes left, another wonderful strike from Kóňa made it 2-2. The winning goal, 12 minutes into the extra half-hour, was cruel on Senica. Substitute Jean Deza raced down the inside-right channel and his attempted cross deflected off Leal and looped over Peter Bolek into the net. Amidst the celebrations, there would have been relief for Majtán who, just moments earlier, had missed an open goal after a Ricardo Nunes free-kick had hit the post and rebounded straight to his feet.


Well done to the teams then, but what about the occasion as a whole? First of all, at least the public of Bardejov responded, buying up (according to a Partizan source) all the tickets allocated to them. It’s undeniable too that work had been done at the ground and to the pitch, which, despite heavy rain, was in acceptable condition. Even so, the surroundings were barely adequate. After their respective long journeys, Žilina and Senica fans found themselves sitting out in the open, low down and miles behind the goals. I can’t imagine they got much a view of the action. On one side of the pitch, opposite the main stand, the running-track (if that is what it was) was covered in mud and puddles. If anything, this favoured Žilina, as it meant that Strnad couldn’t generate much momentum when running up to take his long throw-ins.


In essence, and this is not a criticism of Partizan, or of Bardejov itself, the final should have been played elsewhere – for now, I’m sticking to my nomination of Ružomberok as a venuethat would please most partiesI’m not sure such a suggestion would cut much ice with the SFZ, however. In fact, if a press-conference given a month or so ago by president Ján Kováčik is any guide, the association appears to need a reminder of the recent history of the competition it supposedly organises. ‘It’s a long time since we’ve held a match like this in the east of Slovakia,’ said Kováčik, seemingly unaware that an eastern town (Michalovce) staged the final just two years ago. That, I’d say, pretty much backs up the charge of incompetence against him and his ‘organisation’.


Still, let’s try to end positively and name one or two players who could be destined for better things. For Žilina, Deza once again reminded us of his talent. He has mainly been used in short spells this spring, and clearly has a lot to learn. But, aged just 18, he also has plenty of time to learn it. Róbert Pich was a little quieter than in some recent games, but still had some good moments and is really beginning to fulfil his potential. Senica’s Kóňa was probably the best player on the pitch, however. Not only for his goals but for an almost immaculate all-round performance. Griga’s involvement with the Slovakia set-up should, rightly, ensure that he will soon get the chance to revive his international career.

James Baxter

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