Slovakia take on Andorra tomorrow in the hope of qualifying for the European Championships 2012, but the national team has not paid its players for the past six matches. Basically, the team has no money, declared president of the Slovak Football Association, Jan Kovacik. Well, football is a game of fun, after all.
Anyway, the guys at BritskiBelasi give us their insight into the team and how the match should be played.
Andorra vs Slovakia, 26 March 8 pm
The organisation states the players do not miss the money as much as, for example; the employees and the most important things have to be paid first. The management of the Slovak football has to struggle with the shortage of money every year and tries to solve it via commercial credit or other activities.
Everybody knows Slovakia made a splash at last year’s World Cup, the only major tournament they have ever qualified for. Coming out of that World Cup the young team whose talented collection of footballers ply their trade across all corners of Europe had the perfect springboard from which to bounce into the qualifying campaign for Euro 2012. Since then, and after victory in the first two qualifiers, how they have stuttered. Defeat to Armenia, a nervy draw in Zilina against the Irish, unacceptable defeat in [a friendly against] Luxembourg, is it time for the Slovak ship to move back into smoother waters over the summer. The schedule is favourable, back-to-back matches against Andorra should provide the perfect transition into a series of undoubtedly crucial matches towards the end of the year.
In spite of the riches many of the squad have discovered through their talents, they must remember their roots. These guys must appreciate that the couple of hundred or so Slovaks who made the trip to South Africa were high-end football tourists, the fortunate few from a country where football is unfashionable and still plays a definite 2nd fiddle to ice hockey. While the average football fan in Slovakia can’t even dream of trips to distant continents, road trips to neighbouring countries are high on the agenda. Supporters of domestic teams prove that in the preliminary rounds of European qualifying competition.
The World Ice Hockey Championships are fast approaching. Bratislava and Kosice are gearing up for their moment in the spotlight, now just over a month away. With all the excitement surrounding the hockey, it could be all too easy for football to pass the country by in 2011, and the stark reality is that anything short of 6 points in the next 2 matches against Andorra will leave Slovakia with an almost impossible task to qualify.
Slovaks go with the flow, like sports fans across the globe they are fickle, they will jump on the hockey bandwagon this year and they will jump on the football bandwagon next year, if Slovakia qualify. You won’t change the culture of a Nation, so you better nurture it and that must be the message to the squad flying out to Andorra today. Poland is just up the road [road links in desperate need of improvement, let me add], Lvov is just over the border from large centres of population in the East of Slovakia. Slovakia won’t have another football Championships so close to home for years and years and years. Slovakia missed the Austrian boat in 2008 and had to sit back and watch enviously while the Poles took transport links, accommodation and liquid refreshment in the Slovak Capital ahead of their matches across the border in Vienna.
So, Marek, Miroslav, Robert, Filip, Martin, Kornel etc this is massive. Forget your magazine covers, your 5 figure paycheques and transfer speculation. Please, for Slovakia, get yourselves together, away from the management team if need be, and make your pact, make your plan, get us to the Euros. Qualify for Poland and Ukraine and the fans will be there to support you. Even in Dublin, the fans will be there to support you, I am sure of it, if that match is alive, many Slovaks will be in the Aviva Arena on 2-September. You will get your time in the spotlight.
The squad flew out to Andorra today without the injured Stanislav Sestak, Radoslav Zabavnik, Juraj Kucka and Vladimir Weiss Jr. I could go on about how they will be missed, but that will only be the case if we enter the final half an hour with the match still not put to bed. Admittedly options are reduced with this quartet out of the squad, but the non-calling up of any replacements shows that Slovakia are confident that the rest of the squad can do the job.
This is not a tactical preview, I am not a tactician, I just want Slovakia to win. I want Marek Hamsik to answer his critics on the International stage, I want one of the centre forwards to score 2 goals and I want a clean sheet. If I had to say something to the team regarding tactics, I would strongly advise Slovakia to bombard Andorra from the off. Attack, win corners, free-kicks around the box, send the big guns up, try and get a couple of goals early on so everyone can relax and start enjoying his football. Try and set the platform for a big win. I’m asking for 3 points, but I can already see the headlines if the result is 1-2 or 0-1. This squad needs it’s buzz back and a couple of big wins in the next 2 matches will do it.
And, if it’s not working, don’t panic, any one of the professionals in the Slovakia squad is more than up to the job out in Andorra, bring on a couple of the new guys, let them do their thing. Let Hamsik know he is not untouchable as captain. I don’t know what tactics Weiss intends to employ, I don’t think anyone does. I just hope he picks 2 proper strikers, start Vittek, to give the squad the confidence back from South Africa and play Filip Sebo, the Corgon Liga’s form striker. Play Jendrisk behind them if necessary and give Hamsik the chance to dictate the game, play Stoch as well, let him do his thing against amateur defenders. Play Skrtel and Salata at the back, and Sapara can hold in midfield if necessary. Don’t leave the wingbacks exposed and dominate possession.
Make the right headlines, Slovensko do toho!!