Slovakia Camp Focus – Weiss names provisional squad full of promise

This summer is one to look forward to for the people of Slovakia, with their team qualifying for its first ever World Cup as an independent nation. It is hard to predict what sort of performance the Slovakians will produce in South Africa, but having topped a tough qualifying group including the Czech Republic, Slovenia and Poland, it is certain they will be no pushovers.

Their main threat comes in the shape Marek Hamsik, of Napoli, who operates in an attacking midfield role: “Although he’s still a youngster he’s been in the national team for a long while and knows what it’s all about. I expect him to rise to the occasion. For the past couple of years at Napoli he has played in front of massive crowds and usually does himself justice. He has an attitude I like; he’s very single minded,” says Coach Vladimir Weiss of the 22-year-old.

A good World Cup may see him again attract the attention of some of Europe’s top clubs, with the Premier League one rumoured destination. Alongside, Hamsik, there will be a few recognisable names to Premier League followers amongst the squad. Martin Skrtel of Liverpool is the defensive lynchpin, although there are doubts over his fitness after missing three months with a metatarsal injury. Chelsea youngster Miroslav Stoch will also be present, along with Manchester City youngster Vladimir Weiss Jr, the Coach’s son, who spent the end of the season on loan with Bolton.

The Slovakian goal-threat comes through Stanislav Sestak of German outfit VfL Bochum, who netted an impressive six goals during qualifying putting him on the radar of many big clubs in the Bundesliga. The major worry for the debuting nation comes on the injury front. As mentioned, Skrtel’s injury is a big issue and he is also joined by front-man Filip Holosko of Besiktas who is struggling to overcome a broken leg sustained last year. His fellow striker Robert Vittek is another doubt as he looks to overcome a knee injury suffered whilst playing for Turkish side Ankaragucu.

Pair these problems with a tough group draw, which sees them face defending world champions Italy, South Americans Paraguay and fellow debutants New Zealand and it will certainly be tough for the Repre. However, one thing is certain, no matter what the weather, it will be a summer to look forward to, as they make their way south of the equator for the big kick off in the opening match against the Kiwis.

Without the pressure of expectation, who knows what is possible with a promising mix of pace, flair and organisation.

Provisional 29-man Slovakia squad

Goalkeepers
Jan Mucha (Legia Warsaw)
Dusan Kuciak (Vaslui)
Lubos Kamenar (Nantes)
Dusan Pernis (Dundee United)

Defenders
Peter Pekarik (Wolfsburg)
Martin Petras (Cesena)
Martin Skrtel (Liverpool)
Lubomir Michalik (Leeds)
Jan Durica (Hannover)
Radoslav Zabavnik (Mainz)
Marek Cech (West Brom)
Tomas Lubocan (Zenit St Petersburg)
Kornel Salate (Slovan Bratislava)

Midfielders
Kamil Kopunek (Spartak Trnava)
Jan Kozak (Timisoara)
Juraj Kucka (Sparta Prague)
Miroslav Karhan (Mainz)
Marek Sapara (Ankaragucu)
Mario Pecalka (Zilina)
Marek Hamsik (Napoli)
Vladimir Weiss (Manchester City)
Miroslav Stoch (Chelsea)
Dusan Svento (Salzburg)
Zdeno Strba (Xanthi)
Erik Jendrisek (Schalke)

Forwards
Stanislav Sestak (Bochum)
Robert Vittek (Ankaragucu)
Martin Jakubko (Saturn Moscow)
Filip Holosko (Besiktas)

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