In South Africa Slovakia will be making their first World Cup appearance as an independent country, yet that does not mean they are without experience. As part of Czechoslovakia the country were World Cup runners-up in 1934 and 1962. Up until now the Czech Republic have outdone their brothers on the international stage, qualifying for every European Championship since then as well as the 2006 World Cup.

Slovakia finished first in their qualification group, ahead of Slovenia, the Czech Republic, Northern Ireland and Poland. This achievement, a historic one for the Slovaks, was made all the sweeter with the failure of their neighbours, the Czechs. The World Cup draw has handed them Italy, Paraguay and New Zealand in Group F.

The Coach

Vladimir Weiss (SLO)
45 years old

Appointed in 2008, Weiss took over from Jan Kocian, who was sacked due to his failure to reach Euro 2008. The new coach wrote a piece of Slovak footballing history in October 2009, beating Poland 1-0 away in the snow to lead the country to their first ever World Cup. This led the local press to dub him the “Snow King”.

The son of a footballer, Vladimir Weiss has a son in the game too, his namesake, Vladimir Weiss turns out for Manchester City and Slovakia too. The coach has previously worked for Artmedia Bratislava and also in Russia with Saturn. Domestically he has won two league titles and two cups, and in 2005/06 took Artmedia Bratislava to the group stage of the Champions League.

Players to watch

Marek Hamsik
22 years old
Napoli (ITA)

Although only 22, Hamsik is already a veteran of the Slovakia side, and the captain too. Since his debut in Serie A with Brescia, at the age of just 17, the midfielder has shown an impressive ability to unlock the tightest defences and create precious space. Year after year he has increased his goalscoring tally, ending the recent season with 12 goals, his best for Napoli so far. Last summer Napoli refused to sanction his sale to Juventus for €20M.



Martin Skrtel
25 years old
Liverpool (ENG)

The big question mark over Skrtel is whether he will be 100% fit for Slovakia in South Africa. Having broken his metatarsal playing against Unirea Urziceni in the Europa League for Liverpool in February, the defender has battled the injury to make the World Cup. The big defender has always played a key role for his country and has picked up the Slovakian Player of the Year award in 2007 and 2008.

Stanislav Sestak
27 years old
Bochum (GER)

Sestak can operate as a striker or right sided midfielder and will be important to Slovakia. During qualification the Bochum man was his country’s top scorer with six goals, most notably two against great rivals the Czech Republic which helped Slovakia to a 2-2 draw. In 2007 Sestak won the Slovakian title with MSK Zilna and then left for the Bundesliga. In his first season in Germany the striker scored 13 goals, but has seen his fortunes, along with Bochum’s, falter as the club fell down to the 2. Bundesliga this season.

Miroslav Stoch
20 years old
Twente (BEL)

Last summer Chelsea loaned Stoch to Twente to gain first team experience. The little winger went on to play an important role in the Tukkers’ Eredivisie title victory. Stoch earned his first senior cap for Slovakia in February 2009 against Ukraine. “He’s our special one” commented national team coach Weiss.

The view from Slovakia:

Slovakia are looking forward to the World Cup with newspaper Hospodarske noviny crying “14/10/2009 – the day our football changed history”. Just being in South Africa is considered a success by the Slovaks and they believe Group F is not quite as difficult as it may have first appeared. Whisper it quietly, but the media and public believe that reaching the second round is a realistic aim.


Thanks to Weiss, Slovakia are a charming blend of veterans and young talents. The coach has shown he is willing to pick players from just about anywhere, calling up Slovaks from France to England, from Turkey to Poland and from Holland to Russia. Weiss has brought these together perfectly to form a team. As goalscorer Stanislav Sestak has said: “During the qualification process we played brilliantly as a team.” This is the reason why Slovakia will not be an easy opponent for anyone. The Round of 16 is not just a dream.

Did you know?

Czechoslovakia’s main footballing success as a country was a victory in the 1976 European Championships, beating West Germany in the final. Nine of the thirteen players who played in that game in Belgrade were Slovaks.

Group games

15/06/10: Slovakia 1 – 1  New Zealand     –   Rustenburg
20/06/10: Slovakia  0 – 2  Paraguay     –   Polokwane
24/06/10: Slovakia  3 – 2 
 Italy     –   Nelspruit