Slovakia coach Vladimir Weiss (youngest in the tournament) picks his 23-man squad, but with four fitness worries
The Slovakia coach, the youngest in the tournament, had some tough decisions to make picking his South Africa World Cup hopefuls, with some fitness worries. These included Liverpool’s Skrtel, who has been out with a broken metatarsal since February, but who held out in Saturday’s 1-1 draw against Cameroon.
Slovakia’s most capped player, Miroslav Karhan, is out with an Achilles injury, and Weiss admitted he has taken a gamble on Turkish-based strike duo Holosko and Vittek. Holosko, who broke his leg last year, could not train with the team until Monday, and Vittek has been battling with a persistent knee injury.
“It was a tough decision. Holosko isn’t 100% fit. Well, he may be fit but we don’t know what to expect in a real match. The same is true of Vittek, but we’ll see in the next few days,” said Weiss.
Leeds United defender Lubomir Michalik was dropped from the initial 29-man pick, but West Brom’s Marek Cech and the coach’s son, Man City midfielder Vladimir Weiss, both made it into the final squad. Chelsea super-sub Miroslav Stoch also has his ticket to South Africa, having enjoyed a successful loan spell at FC Twente, with his 12 goals helping the team win the Dutch title.
Slovakia, led by captain Marek Hamsik, have been drawn in Group F for the finals in South Africa, and will face New Zealand, Paraguay and defending champions Italy.
Goalkeepers: Jan Mucha (Legia Warsaw), Dusan Kuciak (Vaslui), Dusan Pernis (Dundee United);
Defenders: Peter Pekarik (Wolfsburg), Martin Petras (Cesena), Martin Skrtel (Liverpool), Jan Durica (Hannover), Radoslav Zabavnik (Mainz), Marek Cech (West Brom), Kornel Salate (Slovan Bratislava).
Midfielders: Kamil Kopunek (Spartak Trnava), Jan Kozak (Timisoara), Juraj Kucka (Sparta Prague), Marek Sapara (Ankaragucu), Marek Hamsik (Napoli), Vladimir Weiss (Manchester City), Miroslav Stoch (Chelsea), Zdeno Strba (Xanthi);
Forwards: Erik Jendrisek (Schalke), Robert Vittek (Ankaragucu), Martin Jakubko (Saturn Moscow), Filip Holosko (Besiktas), Stanislav Sestak (Bochum).
Doesn’t sound good for Slovakia after the impressive qualification. Hamsik was walking with a bandaged ankle at the Costa Rica game and Skrtel hasn’t played all year, doubt if we’ll see either for long!