Apr 15 2013

Slovakia Looks Foward to European U17 Championship

Published by at 2:53 pm under Uncategorized

The draw was made last Thursday for the European Under-17 championship, to be held in Slovakia next month.

The tournament runs from 5-17 May and compromises eight teams ; Slovakia, who qualified automatically as hosts, plus seven who came through a qualifying competition. The format will be familiar from UEFA and FIFA finals tournaments. There are two groups of four, with the top two teams from each going through to the semi-finals.

Group A will be based in Žilina (ie all teams will be accommodated there), with its matches to be shared between Štadión pod Dubňom and Dubnica. Group B’s base is Senec, the location of Slovakia’s national training centre, with games to be played in Nitra and Zlaté Moravce. Both semi-finals and the final will be held in Žilina.

Based on impressions of the senior game, Group B appears to be significantly stronger. Its four sides are Croatia, Italy, Russia and Ukraine. Group A contains, besides the hosts, Austria, Sweden and Switzerland. After the draw, Slovakia coach Ladislav Pecko appeared to feel that his team had been dealt a decent hand. ‘I’d rather be facing these sides than Croatia or Ukraine,’ he said. Yet it ought tobe pointed out that Slovakia have recently lost friendlies to both the Swiss (twice) and the Austrians. Captain Lukáš Haraslín says the team lacked movement against ‘quick and technical’ Switzerland, butwas happier with the display against Austria. ‘It was an even game and was decided by the only goal. We know what their strengths and weaknesses are.’

Slovakia will clearly not be among the favourites for the competition. To have a chance of getting out of the group, they’ll need to show they have indeed learned from the recent defeats. A little good fortune and some decent support from the Žilina and Dubnica locals won’t go amiss either. If they do miss out on a semi-final appearance, third place in the group is at least a passport to the world championships, which will be staged in the United Arab Emirates in October and November.

The bases and hosting stadiums look like decent choices. It is perhaps a shame that the tournament is confined to Slovakia’s western and central regions, but reducing travelling time was clearly a consideration here, especially given that there are only three days between the last group-stage fixtures and the semi-finals. Senec, of course, has all the facilities you’d expect of a national training centre.Žilina, for its part, is used to staging international football and has also hosted under-17 club tournaments in the past, in co’operation with former playing legend Marek Mintál. Dubnica and Zlaté Moravce are small but modern venues which always offer a friendly welcome. Nitra’s ground needs a revamp but the town itself is an attractive place, with a rich history, a few sights and good pubs and restaurants.

The potential is there for an enjoyable few days in May - for players, coaches, administrators and visitors alike.

Group A (Žilina, Dubnica)

Group B (Nitra, Zlaté Moravce)

Slovakia

Russia

Austria

Ukraine

Switzerland

Croatia

Sweden

Italy

Group stage fixtures to be played on the 5th, 8th and 11th of May. Semi-finals to be played on 14th May. Final to be played on 17th May.

James Baxter

One response so far




One Response to “Slovakia Looks Foward to European U17 Championship”

  1.   Jameson 09 May 2013 at 7:02 am

    Great campaign for Slovakia so far, top of the group after 2 games, and now guaranteed a place at World Championships. First, they beat Austria 1-0 in Dubnica with a last-minute goal, then came back from 0-2 down to draw 2-2 with Switzerland in Zilina yesterday. The last game, with Sweden on Saturday, will decide who wins the group.

    The team is clearly learning fast (remember they lost to Austria and twice to the Swiss last autumn) and the team-spirit is obvious. The Swiss looked technically better for much of yesterday’s game, but Slovakia stayed in it, worked tremendously hard and you couldn’t say they didn’t deserve the result.

    4,100+ in Dubnica, which must be the best crowd there since Newcastle in the Inter-Toto in 2005. And 8,200+ in Zilina, best there since the senior team played Russia in EC qualifying in Oct 2011. If, as looks very likely, Slovakia do make the semis, we could be talking about a sell-out.

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