Slovakia coach Vladimir Weiss has announced the following selection for the upcoming Euro 2012 Group B qualifying match against Andorra on 4th June:
DEFENDERS: Erik Čikoš (Wisla Krakov), Martin Škrtel (FC Liverpool), Ján Ďurica(Lokomotiv Moskva), Tomáš Hubočan (Zenit St Petersburg), Kornel Saláta (FK Rostov),Marek Čech (West Bromwich Albion)
MIDFIELDERS: Juraj Kucka (Genoa), Róbert Jež (Górnik Zabrze), Miroslav Karhan(1. FSV Mainz), Kamil Kopúnek (AS Bari), Marek Hamšík (Napoli), Igor Žofčák (Slovan Bratislava)
STRIKERS: Stanislav Šesták (MKE Ankaragücü), Róbert Vittek (MKE Ankaragücü), Filip Šebo (Slovan Bratislava), Adam Nemec (1. FC Kaiserslautern), Filip Hološko (Büyüksehirspor), Erik Jendrišek (SC Freiburg)
As is becoming quite normal these days, there are a couple of new additions to the latest squad, firstly Erik Čikoš from newly crowned Polish Champions Wisla Krakov, a player who started out at Inter Bratislava followed by a short spell at MFK Petrzalka and then a move to Poland. It’s also good to see Slovan Bratislava captain Igor Žofčák back in contention after a superb spring season leading Slovan to the brink of the title.
Weiss continues to experiment with the squad, previously well established defenders Radoslav Zabavník (1. FSV Mainz) and Peter Pekarík (VfL Wolfsburg) having been relegated to the reserves list this time around.
It is interesting to see the veteran Miroslav Karhan back and notable absentees include the coach’s son Vladimir Weiss Jr and Miroslav Stoch although I’m not fully aware of their current fitness status. It is also good to see Róbert Jež there, a player who has only made 4 appearances for the National Team in 4 years despite being one of the most consistent domestic performers over that time period. It would be interesting to hear from a Polish-insider exactly how impressive Jež and Čikoš have been this Spring, but it does seem as though Weiss listens closely to the SFZ scout over the border.
While an international re-call does a lot to vindicate Jež’s move to Poland, it seems as though a season warming the Everton bench has done first choice World Cup goalkeeper Jan Mucha no favours at all; he does not even feature on the reserves list as Weiss has gone local naming Matúš Putnocký as the goalkeeping reserve. Personally I’m not so sure Putnocký is international class yet, but let’s not get too excited, it is only the reserve list after all.
The three FK Senica players (Lukšík, Kóňa and Piroska) who were selected in the last squad, and by all accounts performed quite respectably, also find themselves back on the reserves list in a slightly strange move by the coach.
I’m noticing that throughout this qualifying campaign, Weiss continues to keep the opponents, the players and the fans guessing as to the exact squad and playing style. Each selection has produced a few surprises and I can see how that helps the motivation amongst Slovak footballers, whether they be based at home or abroad. It is slightly bizarre though that he introduces new players to the scene only to drop them again, seemingly regardless of how they perform.
Ticket prices for this match have also been announced this week; €25 / €15 / €7 are the three price categories, and I must admit I find these prices quite high for a match against largely unknown opponents. The real fans amongst us fully appreciate the importance of this match, but prices like that are not likely to sway hesitant locals to attend. I fear a dismal attendance, but let’s hope the players concentrate on the task at hand which is maintaining top place in the group with 3 points and preferably a few goals too.
By Dan Richardson, BritskiBelasi