Slovakia have qualified for the FIFA World Cup™ once in four previous attempts. In 1998 and 2002 they failed to progress beyond the group stage of the preliminary competition, before losing out to Spain in the play-offs four years later. It took until the qualification campaign for South Africa 2010 for Slovakia to finally realise their FIFA World Cup dream, as they emerged triumphant from a formidable group containing Slovenia, Czech Republic, Northern Ireland and San Marino.
The Slovakians have taken a while then to live up to their glory days as part of the former Czechoslovakia, who appeared at no less than eight FIFA World Cups between 1934 and 1990.
FIFA World Cup finals history
Competing under the name of Czechoslovakia, the Repre were losing finalists at both Italy 1934 and Chile 1962. In their final tournament appearance under that earlier guise, the side reached the quarter-finals of Italy 1990, where they were conquered by the eventual winners, and another country no longer in existence, West Germany.
Slovakia’s first FIFA World Cup appearance as an independent nation at South Africa 2010 was an undoubted success. After leaving Italy and New Zealand in their wake and losing just once in the first round to Paraguay, the Slovakians came within a whisker of the quarter-finals, going down 2-1 to eventual finalists Netherlands in the Round of 16.
The current crop
The team are currently riding the crest of a wave following their exploits in South Africa, with the likes of Marek Hamsik and Martin Skrtel providing vital experience from the top divisions in Italy and England respectively. However, Vladimir Weiss was unable to keep his position in the hot-seat and, following his departure in early 2012, Stanislav Griga and Michal Hipp were appointed as Slovakia's co-coaches.
The key players
The first name on the Slovakia team sheet is without question Marek Hamsik. The attacking midfielder is a leading figure of the side despite his young age and has already captained the side at the 2010 FIFA World Cup in South Africa. Defensive chief Martin Skrtel is another iconic figure in the national team.
Joint-coaches: Stanislav Griga and Michal Hipp
Best performances in a FIFA competition: Men's Olympic Football Tournament Moscow 1980 (Winners), FIFA World Cup Italy 1934, Chile 1962 (Runners-up) [All as Czechoslovakia]
Former stars: Stefan Cambal, Miroslav Karhan, Marek Mintal