Chorzow possesses endearing charisma. Former Poland forward Ernst Willimowski described it as "a hub of entertainment", while Bono, the lead signer of Irish rock band U2, hailed it "a wonderful place" after performing there in August.
Slovakian Jan Mucha is another confessed member of the Polish city's fan club. And while many are charmed by Chorzow's impressive Planetarium, Valley of Dinosaurs park or picturesque landscape, the Legia Warsaw goalkeeper attributes his affection to the success he's had in its Silesian Stadium. On his last visit there, indeed, the 26-year-old saved a penalty and made a string of reflex saves to help the capital giants beat Ruch Chorzow 1-0.
Tonight, though, the stakes will be considerably higher for Mucha: his side will not be playing for three points in the Polish Ekstraklasa, but a place at the 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa™. Victory over their hosts would secure Slovakia a coveted berth among the world's elite; anything less and top spot in European Zone, Group 3 will likely be snatched by Slovenia, who won 2-0 in Bratislava on Saturday to move just two points behind their opponents. The Slovenians will play their final qualifier away to San Marino, who have lost all nine of their matches to date, scoring once and conceding 44 times in the process.
"We have to be realistic - although anything is possible in football, I expect Slovenia to win in San Marino," Mucha told FIFA.com. "This means we have to beat Poland, and that's what we're focused on."
The presence in the European play-offs of France, and the probable inclusion of Portugal, has intensified the need for Slovakia, who have failed to reach a major competition since gaining independence in 1993, to finish at the section's summit. "There will be some really strong sides in the play-offs, so we really want to qualify automatically," admitted Mucha. "Besides, there's a lot of luck involved in the play-offs."
Mucha, who joined Legia from Slovak outfit MSK in 2005, does not expect this to be easy, despite the fact that Poland have nothing but pride to play for. Biało-Czerwoni began the campaign as the favourites to win the pool, but, despite a promising start, have taken only four points from their last possible 18 - three of those at home to San Marino.
"Poland are unable to qualify for South Africa, but I know their coach and situation and they are trying to build a team for EURO 2012," explained Mucha. "Because they will co-host the EURO, our meeting will be their last competitive game for a long period, so they'll want to benefit from the experience and achieve victory."
"They are a young side with a new coach. The players will be trying to cement places in the team for EURO 2012. People here, in this huge nation, live football, so they will be playing for honour and pride."
In Slovakia's first encounter with Poland in the South Africa preliminaries - a 2-1 home win in October 2008 - Mucha, who made his international debut the previous year, failed to even make the bench. However, following a series of commanding displays for Legia, he began their next qualifier in Prague. What coach Vladimir Weiss described as "an excellent performance" in a 2-1 defeat of Czech Republic vindicated the Bela nad Cirochou native's promotion, while his man-of-the-match exhibition in last month's 2-0 win in Northern Ireland underlined his importance to the side in a bolder font.
"I haven't been in the team for long, but I'm really enjoying it," he said. "It's every player's dream to wear his national team jersey, and I'm very proud to represent Slovakia." Mucha is evidently a patriot, but he's also very fond of his adoptive home.
"Next summer I'll have been living in Poland for five years. During this time I've only had positive experiences. I've settled down here and feel really at home. I really like the country, I find it beautiful. I'm not sure what the future will hold for me, but if my career takes me somewhere else, I think I'll come back to Poland to live.
"After five years in Poland, I feel as though I know everybody and that everybody knows me. My Polish friends have been winding me up a bit, but they'll be cheering for Slovakia - they want to see us and not Slovenia in the World Cup.
"It's a massive game but I'm relishing it. The stadium in Chorzow is huge and when it‘s full, the atmosphere is great. I have very pleasant memories from playing in Chorzow, and I hope this continues against Poland. We've put so much into this qualification campaign. We'll do our very best to reach the World Cup."