Passionate fanatic about Slovak football, Dan Richardson, fills us in with the news about Corgon league as the second half of the season gets ready to rock.
I’ve not written anything since the Brezovan piece mainly because I do have a day job, but also because obviously we’re still in the middle of one of the longest mid-season breaks in European football. As Czech-based readers will no doubt sympathise, once the festivities of Christmas and New Year are over, football fans in most Western European countries don’t have to wait long for their leagues to come back with a bang. Cue Bundesliga, Serie A, Eredivisie all firing on all cylinders again, and of course there’s no break for the EPL a league which I must admit is grabbing more than just a passing interest from myself for the first time in years.
There have been a few transfers here and there involving Slovak players. Transfers which should give grounds for optimism as far as the National Team is concerned. Sorry to the Red Star fans who eventually missed out on Kornel Salata, the defender who ended seemingly never-ending speculation with what in the end turned out to be a fairly low key move to Rostov in Russia. Rostov have let a few defenders go, so Salata may fit straight in at the back as the new season in Russia approaches.
Erik Jendrisek a striker who was coming, going, staying, leaving, for the last few weeks finally ended speculation with a move from Schalke to Freiburg. Jendrisek wasn’t quite able to nail down a place in the Schalke team and Slovakia fans should be pleased to see him slotting in up front for Freiburg in their last match against Nurnberg. Hopefully he can go on a decent run of form and get back into reckoning with the National team.
Juraj Kucka was another one in the news for a while, and he eventually moved on a big money deal from Sparta Prague to Genoa in Serie A. It wasn’t clear how Kucka would fit in, but reports from Italy indicate he played a good game in the cup defeat against Inter and was then selected for Genoa’s league game against Chievo. Another player who it is good to see featuring in a big league as the next bunch of important National team fixtures approach.
Milan Lalkovic has people who watch Chelsea’s youth team swooning with his pace and skill and Vladimir Weiss Jr is still doing his thing for Rangers, although he wasn’t selected for the league defeat against Hearts where another Slovak keeper Marian Kello took the plaudits with a fine display in the Hearts goal.
There have been a few domestic movements, with Dubnica taking back Pavol Kovac, the keeper who played such a vital part in DAC’s revival towards the end of last year. DAC were quick to replace him though, with the popular Jan Novota returning to DAC from some team I’ve never heard of in Greece.
Zilina have been quietly going about their business, strengthening with the return of international class Zdeno Strba, 6 months too late, Zilina fans may argue, after a disappointing Champions League campaign. The latest speculation from the Zilina camp is that defender Mario Pecalka may be set for a transfer to Hapoel Tel Aviv, a move which should surely motivate me into writing an article about Slovak footballing representation in numerous different countries across Europe. I read recently that there are currently 106 Slovak footballers plying their trade abroad. I really wonder how the National Team selectors keep up with them all!
Trnava appear to be getting ageing but International and proven Bundesliga class Miroslav Karhan back, a shrewd move which will surely strengthen their ranks significantly and together with Strba at Zilina give an all round boost to the quality on display in the Corgon Liga. We also await with interest the progress of Robert Pich, the young striker who moved to Zilina from Dukla Banska Bystrica and if he fulfils his potential may not be playing in Slovakia for much longer. Zilina certainly look strong enough to cruise to the title this season, the big question now I suppose is, aside from if they will finally win the cup, how will they fare in next season’s Champions League? This all remains to be seen ..
While I’m here, I should make mention of the seemingly endless supply of talent coming through at AS Trencin. After Cszaba Horvath and then Frantisek Kubik, two more Trencin players are currently on trial in The Netherlands. Fanendo Adi is trialing at Ajax for the second time, but with Luis Suarez latest transfer talks apparently breaking down, one wonders if that deal will go through, although the two transfers are obviously not nearly on the same scale. Jorge Salinas, a young Paraguayan striker is also on trial, this time at PSV Eindhoven. Chelsea were interested so you would expect Salinas to get a move soon. Credit to Trencin’s scouts and youth system though as it’s not only the foreigners they have brought to the club who are moving on to bigger leagues, there is also a long list of young Slovak talent at the club, as reported by profutbal.sk this morning. As long as they keep playing in this ‘Breukelen Cup’ it seems like Holland might be seeing a few more Slovaks in seasons to come.
All the teams have been playing plenty of matches, either friendly games, or ‘semi-competitive’ matches in the Tipsport Liga. With the exception of the rioting Trnava fans, there hasn’t been much to get excited about, although mention should be made of Zilina’s comprehensive and impressive 5-2 defeat of Shaktar Donetsk in another friendly cup currently being held in Dubai, a fry cry from the Slovak winter!
Now, I said I’d finish on Slovan, so here goes. The team from the capital didn’t enter the Tipsport League and have been keeping largely themselves to themselves since the Champions Weekend in Prague. An altitude training camp held in the Tatras mountains seems to have given the squad plenty of time to bond with each other and with coach Karel Jarolim.
Spirits looked high after the indoor tournament in Prague and a draw with a very experimental XI against Tatran Presov was followed up by a 2-0 win over FC Lombard Papa of the Hungarian 1st Division. The Papa match kicks off a series of friendly games against various opposition including Videoton (this Wednesday), Petrzalka and Slavia Prague. These matches provide Slovan with the opportunity to gain some momentum going into the 2nd half of the season, where they simply have to produce consistently good form to keep touch at the top of the league, and secure the minimum expectation of European football next season.
The first competitive match back for Slovan is away to Spartak Trnava, the biggest derby in Slovak Football, and the good news for Slovan fans is that the Ultras group, Belasa Slachta, seem to have held successful negotiations with the club management and look set to offer their full support to the team from now on. That could be just the tonic the team needs to achieve an undefeated 2nd half of the season ..
.. whatever happens, first things first, and it will be Luxembourg v Slovakia; Britski Belasi on tour on February 9th .. hopefully a match where a few new young Slovak players will be given an opportunity .. and then the long wait for the return of domestic football will soon be over ..
Author, Dan Richardson, BritskiBelasi