Slovakia National Stadium
Viktora Tegelhoffa 4
831 04 Nové Mesto
Ground Number: 1166
Sunday 26th March 2023
Slovakia 2-0 Bosnia Herzegovina
Sunday 26th March 2023
Slovakia 2-0 Bosnia Herzegovina
A BRIEF HISTORY OF THE SLOVAKIAN NATIONAL TEAM
The Slovakia nation football team was established in 1993 following the breakup of Czechoslovakia.Whereas their former partners Czech Republic saw immediate success by being Euro 96 runners-up, Slovakia would have to wait a little longer for their turn. The first tournament they would qualify for was the 2010 South Africa World Cup, progressing out of the group in second place after a 1-1 draw against New Zealand, a 2-0 defeat to Paraguay and a sensational 3-2 win over Italy. They narrowly lost 2-1 to the Netherlands in the Round Of 16. They made their European Championships in 2016 in France. Paired with England, Wales and Russia, they progressed in third place thanks to a win over Russia and a draw against England. The Round of 16 saw a 3-0 loss to Germany. Their campaign in the delayed and fragmented Euro 2020 got off to an encouraging start as they beat Poland 2-1 in Seville. However, they lost 2-1 to Sweden and 5-0 to Spain to exit at the group stage.
Other competitions saw them make their competition debut at the 2000 Summer Olympics. They are currently at Group C level in the Nations League having been relegated from Group B in 2020/21. A number of minor tournaments have also been won. The record holder for appearances and goals is the recently retired Martin Hamsik. He got 26 goals and 136 caps. English based players in the squad include Martin Dubrava and Marek Rodak from Newcastle United and Fulham respectively. The national side tends to play its games at Tehelne Pole in Bratislava but has also played recent games in Trnava and Zilina.
When planning my tip away for these dates, I wanted to make sure I got as much value for my travel costs as possibly. Normally, that would mean a TV game at an odd time in the top division but with it being International week it made things trickier. I looked around at the various options and decided that the best option would be Vienna and Bratislava. Flights, transfers and hotels were duly booked, all coming in at a very reasonable cost. When I looked into Slovakia tickets, I knew I'd have to wait but it turned out to be a little more complicated than I thought. Due to the behaviour of a minority of Bosnia fans, their supporters had faced sanctions and therefore the tickets were geo-restricted. I thought that I was going to have to wait and chance it on the day, but while social media has some rotters, it also, like the real world, has some diamonds. Thanos who runs the Slovakian Football account on Twitter ordered my ticket for me without question and paid up front with me sending the money later. He also helped me with finding other games to make the most of my time in Bratislava.
From my game at Kosmos, I had a bit of time to spare. I went to Lidl to get some drinks and snacks, surprised at how many shops were still open at 5.15 on a Sunday evening. I'd missed out on a couple of bars as they were closed, but whatever was open was busy. This included the packed tram. I dropped my stuff back at my hotel and picked up my match ticket. From there, some drink was in order, so I headed to the Vycap U Ernőho for a pint of Castler, my first Slovakian cider. It was good, but I needed food so I headed to the Dubliner Irish Pub. Upon discovering it was cash only, I stuck with a pint of Strongbow. I was going to head for another bar, but unusually for me, I didn't fancy it. I wanted food but was rapidly running out of cash. The ATM I tried wanted a 5 Euros commission, so I rejected it and headed for McDonald's. Four nuggets, a wrap and some chips were purchased for under a fiver. Whilst not the best, they filled a hole. After getting a drink at a shop I got the tram to near the ground. I thought Google Maps had done me dirty again as there was little sign of life or a ground. But suddenly it appeared, though there still weren't big crowds. Getting in was nice and easy. There was a nice friendly atmosphere, even though there was a Bosnia flag in our block. I later met Spud off our groundhopping group and he gave me a programme. Graeme, the Everton fan was in attendance and was also great to talk to. They'd managed four games today, dipping back into Austria for one.
The start to Euro 2024 Qualification had started in disappointment for Slovakia as they could only manage a 0-0 draw against Luxembourg in the opening game in Trnava. Bosnia had made a good start beating Iceland 3-0. Portugal and Lichtenstein made up the other teams in the group. Bosnia started brightly, but Slovakia soon took control. Robert Mak opened the scoring on 13 minutes with a low shot from outside the area. They could have had more but had to wait until 40 minutes when Lukás Haraslín scored with a shot into the bottom corner from around the penalty spot.
The attendance had been just 6,052 and even with them making it difficult to get tickets for non-nationals, plenty still got in. Such a decent stadium and pricing structure deserve more support, as does the team. Those that were there though really got behind the team. It was time to head back to my hotel and for the sixth time that day, I took the number 4 tram. I was back in my room by 11. The tram line was right outside my room and very noisy so I watched YouTube until they packed up. I must have got around four hours of sleep as they started up again at just after 5. I got up just before 6, the usual shower and getting dressed. I was out of the hotel at 6.40 and at the airport by 7.10. Just 4 Euros got me 7 tram rides and an airport transfer. The airport check-in was swift, but then it was a very small airport with few flights. Everything went well and I was back in England just before midday.
TEHELNE POLE is an excellent stadium for both Slovan Bratislava and the national team. The ground has a capacity of 30,000 and is fitted out really nicely. Inside there are a few bits of concrete that could do with brightening up but outside it looks great when lit up. There's a nearby shopping park or there are a range of food, snacks and drinks at the ground.