Slovakia get another chance to secure a World Cup place when they play Poland today after blowing their first shot at qualifying for next year’s tournament.
Slovakia needed just a point on Saturday at home against Slovenia to advance but lost 2-0 and now need an away victory in Chorzow to win Group 3.
“We have two days to get our act back together and we will celebrate qualification to the finals in Chorzow on Wednesday,” Slovakia captain Robert Vittek said.
Slovakia lead the group with 19 points. Second-place Slovenia, who play San Marino in their last qualifier, are two points behind.
Victory would secure Slovakia’s first World Cup appearance since the republic was founded on Jan. 1, 1993.
Slovakia coach Vladimir Weiss’ greatest concern against Poland is his depleted defense. Regular starters Martin Skrtel, Jan Durica and Radoslav Zabavnik picked up yellow cards against Slovenia and must now sit out today’s match. Midfielder Miroslav Stoch will also be out for the same reason.
Weiss has called on sweeper Lubomir Michalik, who plays for Leeds, to strengthen his team’s patchwork defense.
Poland have only pride to play for after earning just one point from their last three qualifiers and falling to second from bottom of the group, despite having made a respectable start to their qualifying campaign.
The Polish federation fired coach Leo Beenhakker following a 3-0 loss to Slovenia last month, and replaced him with interim manager Stefan Majewski.
Majewski called up a young squad for the final two qualifiers, only to see his team thoroughly outplayed in a 2-0 loss to the Czech Republic on Saturday.
Despite their problems, Poland remain a tricky opponent for Slovakia.
Slovenia have a much easier task today against San Marino — a team that has yet to earn a point in nine qualifying matches.
A Slovenia win, combined with a Slovakia draw against Poland, would put Slovenia through on goal difference.
The Czech Republic are third in the group with 15 points and only have a mathematical chance of a playoff spot if they beat Northern Ireland on Wednesday and Slovenia draw or lose.
Since becoming a member of FIFA in 1988, San Marino have never won a match, losing all but two of their World Cup qualifying matches.
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Friday said that he had called in the “third umpire” as he announced that recreational cricket would be allowed to resume next weekend. In a radio interview earlier on Friday, Johnson angered thousands of club cricketers by saying that the amateur game was still not safe to play amid the COVID-19 pandemic because of issues surrounding communal teas and dressing rooms. “It’s the teas, it’s the changing rooms and so on and so forth. There are other factors involved that generate proximity which you might not get in a game of tennis,” he said. Johnson had already
Hong Kong media reported that police briefly detained a man in a Liverpool team jersey who shouted “long live Liverpool” during anti-government protests on Wednesday, over suspicion that he was inciting independence. In-Media reported that the man was across the street from police officers who were conducting stop-and-searches on a group of protesters, when he shouted: “Long live Liverpool.” Others reportedly cheered and joined in the chant, before officers detained him. The man told In-Media that police had accused him of inciting Hong Kong independence, which now is a punishable crime. He said that he has been a fan of the English soccer
Indian police are investigating an alleged betting scandal in which a sham cricket tournament was held in an Indian village and passed off as a Twenty20 contest played in Sri Lanka. Players portrayed as Sri Lankan cricketers played two matches on Monday last week that were broadcast with live commentary on YouTube, media reports said, along with ball-by-ball coverage on top Indian sports Web sites. The organizers hung Sri Lankan advertisements at the ground for added authenticity and put up tents to block the view from outside the remote rural venue, set in farmland next to a busy highway. Police said that they
Taipower on Sunday charged to their third straight win and took over first place in the Taiwan Football Premier League as previous leaders Taichung Futuro suffered their first defeat of the season, while Hang Yuan rallied from two goals down to complete a thrilling 3-2 victory over National Taiwan University of Sport (NTUS). Heading into the 10th round of matches, unbeaten Taichung Futuro led the league with 21 points, but they fell to their first defeat of the season, a 1-0 loss to Tatung at the National Stadium in Kaohsiung. In a match in which both defenses were on top and there