A new country looking to make an impression at their first World Cup
The first time for the country in the FIFA World Cup finals since the split of Czechoslovakia in 1993, Slovakia were the surprise winners of their qualifying group, beating Slovenia, the Czech Republic and Poland to secure their place in the finals.
Vladimir Weiss Former Slovakian international Vladimir Weiss is as close as it comes to Slovakian football pedigree. His father, of the same name, was a Czechoslovakian international. His son, Vladimir Weiss (original!), plays for Manchester City. If a team can win on the patriotism of the coach, expect Slovakia to go far.
Player to watch
Marek Hamsik Hamsik has not only become a cult hero at Napoli but is actively being courted by a number of Premiership giants, most recently Chelsea and Man City. Liverpool’s Martin Skrtel has also boosted the Slovak squad by announcing his timely fitness.
We’re on the ball
World Cup appearances: 0 Previous best: N/A Odds of winning: 225/1 Strange but true: Slovakia qualified for the 2010 FIFA World Cup playing in the snow – a little different to the weather conditions they can expect in South Africa. Fixtures: New Zealand, June 15, 3.30pm, Rustenburg Paraguay, June 20, 3.30pm, Bloemfontein Italy, June 24, 6pm, Johannesburg