Slovakia have participated in international football tournaments
as an independent nation since 1993, after the division of the
former Czechoslovakia into two independent states - Czech Republic
Thus far they have yet to reach the same heights as the former Czechoslovakia, whose major successes included winning the European Championships in 1976 and reaching the final of the FIFA World Cup™ on two occasions - at Italy 1934 and Chile 1962. Jan Popluhar, one of the heroes from 1962 was voted Slovakian player of the century.
Slovakia have, so far, failed to continue this successful tradition of Czechoslovakia and are yet to qualify for a FIFA World Cup or European Championship, despite only narrowly missing out on two occasions. In qualifying for France 1998, they finished in fourth place in their group behind neighbours Czech Republic. The 2002 tournament also eluded Slovakia after they finished third behind Sweden and Turkey. Their qualifying campaign for the UEFA EURO 2004 also ended in third place.
In the qualifiers for the 2006 FIFA World Cup Germany™, they managed to finish ahead of Russia but could not overcome Portugal, finishing second in the group. During the UEFA EURO 2008 preliminaries, however, Slovakia really came down to earth with a bump. It was Czech Republic and Germany who qualified out of their group for Austria and Switzerland, with Republic of Ireland taking third and Slovakia ending up in fourth.
Jan Kocian took over the managerial reins from Dusan Galis in November 2006 and chose to keep the faith with experienced professionals such as two-time Slovakian footballer of the year Marek Mintal and goal-getter Robert Vittek. However, a string of poor results cost the 43-year-old his job and on 27 June 2008 he was replaced by the former Artmedia Bratislava coach and Czechoslovakia international, Vladimir Weiss.