Monday, 4 January 2010

Slovakia to face Norway in friendly

The SFZ confirmed that Slovakia will start 2010 with a friendly against Norway, which is to be played on Wednesday, 03/03/2010 at a yet to be confirmed venue in Slovakia [most likely Stadium Pod Dubňom in Žilina that also hosted Slovakia v. Chile in November].

 Norway in Group 9

Norway [32] is ranked right above Slovakia [33] in the most recent Fifa/Coca-Cola World Ranking. Norwegian football has been in the doldrums since Euro 2000 - the last major tournament it managed to qualify for. Its ranking suffered significantly in the 2000s, dropping from 14 in 2000 to 59 in January 2009. Although Norway finished second in Group 9, between the Netherlands and Scotland [on goal difference], their record was poor -  two wins from eight games played, confining Norway to the only non-play-off spot in the European part of the 2010 World Cup qualifiers.

Norway's John Carew

Justifying the choice of such an opponent is a difficult task. Apart from their thrashing of 10-men Scotland in Oslo, Norway did struggle offensively, finishing their qualification efforts with a poor goal difference of +2. Norway displayed some defensive qualities in games against the strong Dutch side, conceding just three goals from two games, but will such an opponent test the Slovaks sufficiently enough before their first-ever World Cup?

Why Norway?

This friendly may be seen by Vladimír Weiss as preparation for Slovakia's opening game against New Zealand, but that is about it. If there is one thing that Slovakia needs to do before the World Cup commences, it is playing teams that are a really tough nut to crack. A South American side or a  Pot 1 team from Europe would be ideal, and even another Pot 4 team [plus Russia, Croatia and Ukraine] would most probably be a better choice than Norway.
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