Jan 07 2013

Slovak Football News Jan 2013

Published by at 8:23 am under Uncategorized

A round-up of some of the developments in Slovak football as 2013 begins and Corgoň Liga clubs return to training :

It is something of a Slovak tradition that at least one top division club will spend the winter break or close-season under the clouds of crisis. At present, it isNitra’s turn. Their problems began with last September’s infamous Seydouba Soumah incident, which precipitated, amongst other things, the resignation of the club’s two main shareholders. An extraordinary meeting is to be held next week at which, it is hoped, potential new backers will announce themselves. With the team struggling at the bottom of the league, a three-point deduction to come into effect at the end of the season and average attendances of just 600 or so, it is easy to see why Nitra may not be an attractive proposition. But the very best of luck to them.

At leastNitraare due some money – 150,000 Euros according to some reports – from Slovan Bratislava for Soumah’s winter transfer. At one stage last autumn, Soumah trained with Viktoria Plzeň, but they did not follow up their interest in him. When his six-month ban finally expires in mid-March, the exciting 21-year old Guinean should add to Slovan’s already formidable attacking options. He said in a recent interview with Šport that he would welcome the opportunity to apologise to Michal Mastiš, the referee he assaulted during the fateful Trnava game that led to his ban, but has no intention of making a similar gesture towards any of the Trnava players. So the next Trnava v Slovan fixture should be even more spicy than usual.

One player who will not be figuring in the Corgoň Liga this spring is Filip Šebo, whose Slovan contract expired in December. He had been out of the first-team squad since September, having said he had no intention of signing a new deal. Šebo has openly admitted that he would love to play in theUSA, but recent newspaper rumours suggest he will be crossing only the Morava river, as opposed to theAtlantic ocean, with Slavia Prague reported to be interested in signing him. Slovan have also said they will not be pursuing David Depetris, the Corgoň Liga’s current top scorer, whose Trenčín contract also ran out last month. He is said to have attracted the attention of Romanian side FC Cluj.

An interesting transfer that has been completed is Ivan Lietava’s move from Ukrainian club Vorskla Poltava to Trnava. Lietava is a big, physical striker who has redefined the term ‘much-travelled’. If he produces his best form at Trnava, the sort of performances that saw him help Žilina to the 2009/2010 Slovak title, or score 11 goals in 21 games for Dukla Praha in 2011/2012, ‘Bílí Andeli’ should have enough firepower to avoid relegation.

The first week of 2013 has also seen two clubs change coach. Zdeněk Psotka has left Senica after six months on their bench to take up a directorial role at Sigma Olomouc. Neutral followers of the Slovak game may regret this, since, after a slow start immediately following his appointment, Psotka had re-established Senica as one of the league’s best sides and as the most likely spring challengers to Slovan. His replacement is Vladimír Koník, the man who led Šamorín to a first ever promoion to the II Liga in 2011/2012.

Finally, some news concerning my local club – and it does not come as a great surprise. Žilina have sacked Dutch coach Frans Adelaar, the man appointed last April to introduce Cryuff-style ‘total football’ to central Slovakia. Adelaar safely negotiated his first nine games, guiding his team to a league and cup double at the end of 2011/2012. But this season has been harder ; two players, Tomáš Majtán and Peter Šulek, were effectively banished and several youngsters have been introduced to the first team. Results, predictably, have been mixed. The teenagers, notably midfielderMilanŠkriniar, clearly have great potential but are also susceptible to dips in form. And ultimately, the Žilina hierarchy are unable to accept a run of three wins from the last 15 games, or the idea of their side in 5th place in the league, 8 points behind Slovan.

Adelaar will be temporarily replaced by his assistant Štefan Tarkovič, whose main role until now appears to have been translating the Dutchman’s instructions from English to Slovak. In the summer, Adrián Guľa, currently in charge at Trenčín, will take over. Incredibly – we are, after all, talking about the club that sacked Adelaar’s predecessor despite a 13-game unbeaten run – Guľa has been offered a 5-year contract. He is, along with Slovan’s Samuel Slovák, one ofSlovakia’s genuinely exciting young coaches and Trenčín are naturally upset at the thought of losing him. Hopefully, he will be able to adapt to an environment where the occasional limp defeat or frustrating 0-0 draw is not seen as ‘part of the game’ or ‘an aspect of the learning process’ but as something deeply unacceptable.

Meanwhile, Adelaar’s parting words to his Žilina players were simple but wise. They were a reminder that, while Slovan are probably too far clear at the top of the league and, let’s face it, too good to be caught, there is still a trophy to be claimed. ‘I hope you win the cup,’ he told them. Hear, hear to that.

James Baxter

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