Tuesday, 1 June 2010

Slovakia's final 23-man squad named

With only two weeks separating Slovakia from its first-ever World Cup game against New Zealand [15/06 @ 1.30pm in Rustenburg], manager Weiss named his final 23-man squad for the tournament.

The squad consists of 21 players who play abroad and 2 who [Saláta and Kopúnek] play in the domestic Corgoň Liga. Those who did not make the cut include:
  • goalkeeper Ľuboš Kamenár - his FC Nantes finished 15th in the Ligue 2, having conceded 54 goals in 38 matches. It seems that Kuciak's injury was not as serious as it seemed. More importantly, Dušan Perniš has had a great half a season with Dundee United ever since his December '09 transfer.
  • defenders - Ľubomír Michalík, who has found himself out of favour in Leeds United; Tomáš Hubočan and Mário Pečalka, who did not feature in Slovakia's qualifying campaign.
  • midfielder Dušan Švento - this is a controversial decision as many think that Kozák [some fans call him "Weiss's horse" or "Johnny Walker"], who lacks the necessary speed, does not play on a regular basis for his club and had a poor game against Cameroon should be out instead [I see their point but Stoch as well as Jendrišek can play on the left - a spare central midfielder is more handy]; defensive midfielder Miroslav Karhan, out with an Achilles tendon rupture.
Vladimír Weiss commented:

"My decision was not easy - it is based on players' performances, in the qualifiers or during the training camp. This is my decision and everyone should respect it. The team consists of those players, who got Slovakia to the World Cup. The only exception is Juraj Kucka."

"As you know, some players were not fit during the training camp. Miro Karhan [Slovakia's most experienced player that has played in every single qualifying campaign in Slovakia's history] is definitely out because of his injury - he truly deserved to play at the World Cup. Football is about joy and pain. I think that every single player deserves to be there - the squad consists of the best players we have at our disposal. I hope that they will confirm this in South Africa."

"Kucka's performance [in the Cameroon game] and sheer dedication during trainings earned him his place in the team - he was the one rookie who seemed to be telling me 'I am here and I want to make it'. Unfortunately, even after publishing this team sheet we are still encountering some problems - neither Filip Hološko nor Róbert Vittek are fully ready yet [they have been injured]. They have two more weeks to show what is in them."

"Against Costa Rica [05/06 @ 5pm] I am going to field a team that should secure a win. It does not always work - today's football is physically as well as tactically challenging, as we saw against Cameroon. We were better upfront [than the opponent] in the first half and defended well in the second half - with the exception of one small mistake [conceded goal]. The make-or-break moments of today's football are about small mistakes and we still need to improve some details of our play."

Goalkeepers: Ján Mucha (Legia Warsaw/Pol.), Dušan Kuciak (FC Vaslui/Rom.), Dušan Perniš (Dundee United/Scot.).

Defenders: Peter Pekarík (VfL Wolfsburg/Ger.), Martin Škrtel (FC Liverpool/Engl.), Ján Ďurica (Lokomotiv Moscow/Rus.), Radoslav Zabavník (1. FSV Mainz/Ger.), Marek Čech (West Bromwich Albion/Engl.), Martin Petráš (AC Cesena/Ita.), Kornel Saláta (ŠK Slovan Bratislava).

Midfielders: Kamil Kopúnek (Spartak Trnava), Ján Kozák ml. (FC Temešvár/Rom.), Juraj Kucka (AC Sparta Praha/Cze.), Marek Sapara (MKE Ankaragücü/Tur.), Marek Hamšík (SSC Neapol/Ita.), Vladimír Weiss Jr. (Manchester City/Engl.), Miroslav Stoch (FC Chelsea/Engl.), Zdeno Štrba (Škoda Xanthi/Gre.).

Forwards: Stanislav Šesták (VfL Bochum/Ger.), Erik Jendrišek (Schalke 04/Ger.), Róbert Vittek (OSC Lille/Fr.), Filip Hološko (Besiktas Istanbul/Tur.), Martin Jakubko (Saturn Moscow Oblast/Rus.).
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