Slovaks want to qualify for second round

13:37, May 14, 2010      

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Slovak soccer national squad will leave for South Africa with one goal - to win at least one victory in their group F and qualify for the next round of World Cup 2010.

This is at least what the players say now, before the team meets next week. And this is what majority of Slovak fans believes in, as opinion polls show.

The first match will be most important. Slovaks will play New Zealand, which is expected to show strong will and good physical condition, but not too much technical skill. Then they will meet Paraguay and the champions from Italy.

"We have no big soccer stars in our team," said Martin Skrtel, central defender of Slovak squad and of FC Liverpool, "we won the qualification thanks to the team spirit."

He was quite modest in saying so, as he himself plays for a top English team. Majority of the teammates play abroad, e.g Dusan Hamsik is a top player with Italian Naples or Dusan Holosko with Turkish champions of Besiktas.

"Every member of national team is happy to play for Slovakia," Skrtel said.

For Slovakia, it will be for the first time to play in the most important soccer event. Slovak players were part of the Czechoslovak teams which won the silver medals at the World Cups before, but this is for the first time, when they have qualified without the Czech teammates.

Players will meet in Piestany on May 18, pass medical checks and start to prepare themselves for the Cup. On May 24, they will leave for village of Kleinkirchheim in Austrian mountains, to get used to the air with less oxygen, as their first game in South Africa will be played in altitude of 1,100 meters above sea level.

Then they will meet in friendly matches Costa Rica and Cameroon. On Tuesday, June 8, the team will leave for South Africa.

"The group in not simple affair, but on the other hand, not extra-demanding we have to win the first match against New Zealand and then we'll see...It was a great success for us even to qualify for the World Cup," Martin Skrtel said.

Another top player Stanislav Sestak hopes his team can win a point or even three in the match against Italy.

"I expect that Italians will win first two matches and then, perhaps, they will start to calculate. Fans often underestimate Paraguay, but they may be immensely difficult to beat and perhaps they will show more quality than Italians."



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