Friday, 18 June 2010

200 Words on Slovakia v. New Zealand

Three days later I finally mustered the courage to reflect on Tuesday's match. My expectations were nearly as high as disappointment that kicked in after Winston Reid scored - it has been with me ever since. I am not bitter about his goal - I am happy for New Zealand and disappointed about what I saw on the pitch. It reminded me of the dark days of Slovak football that lasted for over 15 years. 

Apologies for the lack of length - you may find this reflection in The Observer this coming Sunday and they have their limits. I have also started my job in HK, leaving me with very little spare time - I will, however, try my best to keep things as up-to-date as possible.
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84 games, 7560 minutes and 17 years later Slovakia finally saw its World Cup premiere. It was going to be a memorable occasion and everyone’s hopes were high, especially since they played the group’s underdog. Slovakia’s performance in its final pre-World Cup friendly against Costa Rica should have been a sign of things to come – Slovaks played offensively, imposing themselves on their opponent, creating a lot of chances and scoring three goals. Three points against the All Whites were seen as a must.


The important lesson of the Cameroon friendly was that a goal is not enough to win a game of football – in Klagenfurt Slovakia conceded with seven minutes to go; in Rustenburg the figure was much more punishing. Weiss Jr. had a great game – if Stoch played too, I am convinced that Slovakia would have scored more than a goal. Jendrisek, his replacement, was invisible. Everyone expected much more from captain Hamsik, who could have and should have stopped Smeltz’s cross; Sestak and Vittek failed to convert their (half-)decent chances; Durica and Strba left Reid unmarked, enabling him to score that (in)famous goal. New Zealand played with heart and did not give up until the very end – they deserved to equalize. Regardless of their ranking, they are an inspiration to any team.
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