Spectator on facebook

Spectator on facebook

Slovaks keep World Cup hopes alive with win over Czechs

Anytime there is a meeting of any sort between Slovakia and the Czech Republic, emotions are sure to be stirred. With 25,000 spectators jammed into Slovan stadium in Bratislava and half a nation glued to their TV sets on August 24 to witness a World Cup soccer qualifying match between the two federation partners, the atmosphere could not have been more electric.
No one noticed in Prague, though. The game wasn't broadcast on any of the Czech television stations. Bars were empty in Prague on a Sunday night except for tourists searching for Czech beer.
It is a remarkable fall for the Czech national team, the surprise darlings of the 1996 European Championship who almost conquered the Albion, finishing second. The Czechs have already been eliminated from qualifying for the 1998 World Cup in France, but the Slovaks kept their hopes alive with a 2-1 victory over their former teammates.


Slovak Jozef Kožlej (right) battles Czech captain Jiří Němec for the ball. Tibor Jančula is in the background.
TASR

Anytime there is a meeting of any sort between Slovakia and the Czech Republic, emotions are sure to be stirred. With 25,000 spectators jammed into Slovan stadium in Bratislava and half a nation glued to their TV sets on August 24 to witness a World Cup soccer qualifying match between the two federation partners, the atmosphere could not have been more electric.

No one noticed in Prague, though. The game wasn't broadcast on any of the Czech television stations. Bars were empty in Prague on a Sunday night except for tourists searching for Czech beer.

It is a remarkable fall for the Czech national team, the surprise darlings of the 1996 European Championship who almost conquered the Albion, finishing second. The Czechs have already been eliminated from qualifying for the 1998 World Cup in France, but the Slovaks kept their hopes alive with a 2-1 victory over their former teammates.

The chance came about thanks to some inspired play by Slovakia's talented forwards, Tibor Jančula, Jozef Majoroš, and Jozef Kožlej. Ten minutes into the second half, Majoroš headed a deflected ball into the net, putting Slovakia on top for good. Only two minutes before, Czech goalie Pavel Srniček stuffed Július Šimon's penalty kick, causing a hush to descend on the crowd.

The Czechs scored the first goal of the match 15 minutes into the game after the Slovak defense was caught too far up. Czech captain Jiří Němec flew up the field finding a wide-open Vladimír Šmicer who nailed an easy goal past the Slovak goalie, 38 year-old Ladislav Molnár.

The Slovaks equalized in the closing minute of the first half after Igor Bališ passed the ball with a nifty back kick to Jančula who stunned Srníček with a blast.

"If we beat the European Championship runners-up, I think we can dare to hope for a win against Yugoslavia and Spain next month," said Jozef Jankech, the Slovak coach immediately after the win.

As this paper went to print, the Yugoslavs and Slovaks were set to meet in Bratislava on September 10. If Slovakia beats Yugoslavia and Spain at home, and then scores a victory over the Czechs in Prague, the team would finish first in its group, which is an automatic berth in the World Cup.


STANDINGS

Wins Ties Losses Pts.

1.Spain 6 2 0 20

2.Yugoslavia 6 1 1 19

3.Slovakia 5 0 2 15

4.Czech Republic 3 1 4 10

5.Faroe Islands 2 0 7 6

6.Malta 0 0 8 0


Games Remaining:

September 10 - Yugoslavia at Slovakia
September 24 - Spain at Slovakia; Czech Republic at Malta
October 11- Slovakia at Czech Republic; Faroe Islands at Spain, Yugoslavia at Malta

Top stories

Quidditch becomes reality in Slovakia as first teams emerge Video

The wizard sport, fighting for its status in the real sports world, has won the hearts of some Slovaks.

Top stories from Last Week in Slovakia Video

Voters’ indifference affects regional votes - Can Slovaks be lured back from Britain? - Petit Press majority owner dies

Foreigners: Top 10 events in Bratislava Video

Tips for the top 10 events in the capital between October 20 and October 29, plus regular services in different languages, training, temporary exhibitions and highlights of the year.

International Halloween Party

Babiš did not re-write the past

Constitutional Court decided in favour of National Memory Institute which included Andrej Babiš in its list of communist secret service confindants.

Slovak-born Czech Finance Minister Andrej Babiš