Slovakian Dream Come True
With so much going on for World Cup qualifying it would be easy to get distracted. I didn’t really care about Argentina’s plight or if Portugal could get into the playoffs. I was instead transfixed by UEFA’s backwater, Group Three, and Slovakia’s attempt to make their first World Cup.
The Slovaks missed a golden chance to seal up qualification on Saturday by losing at home to 2nd place Slovenia. The two squads were separated by 2 points with the Slovenians traveling to San Marino and an almost certain 3 points. With a poorer goal differential, Slovakia’s trip to Poland would be a must win a tie would throw them into the playoffs.
With 4 starters missing due to suspension and the pressure of an entire country on them, the Slovaks persevered. After forcing an early own goal, they held onto the 1-0 lead for 86 more minutes in the snow and against a Polish team with nothing to play for besides pride. With little chance of seeing the frantic defensive effort at work; I was left to frantically check back with FIFA’s match tracker.
It was almost anticlimactic when the electronic whistle blew for “FT”. The meager match tracker had no commentary or stats. There was no twitter feed to fill me in like there was for the National Team game last Saturday night. It’s a little hard to get an idea of a match when all you see is “Seweryn Gancarczyk (og 4)”. Something monumental happening with a whimper. Much like I found out over the weekend, some of the best games are the ones you never got to see.