Slovakia coach sacked despite Euro 2020 play-off semi-final triumph

In a shocking announcement last week, Slovakia have sacked their manager Pavel Hapal only days after he led the his side to triumph in their Euro 2020 play-off semi-final over Stephen Kenny’s Ireland side. Slovakia won 4-2 on penalties against Republic of Ireland in Path B. However, Slovakia are bottom of Group B2 in the Nations League with one point from four games.

The Slovak Football Association (SFA) said in a statement that the subsequent defeats to Scotland and Israel in the Nations League had convinced them that it was time to part with the long-time coach. “(The SFA) judged the results in the UEFA Nations League matches, and the team’s performance, to be insufficient and not meeting the legitimate expectations of the general public,” it said in a statement.

The Slovak side drew 0-0 with Stephen Kenny’s team after 120 minutes of play on 8 October before winning on penalties. Kenny’s men created the better chances in the game which ended 0-0 after extra-time, during which substitute Browne hit the post, but went down 4-2 on penalties. Slovakia, aiming to qualify for the European championship for the second time, faceNorthern Ireland in Belfast on Nov. 12.

The 51-year-old completed two years as Slovakia coach and in the 17 games under him, the team won only seven. Hapal had been in charge of the Slovak senior team since 2018, having previously managed the Under-21s. The Czech-born coach had been under pressure after a poor start to the Nations League campaign last month. The SFA said a new coach would be named this week.

Four nations will qualify for Euro 2020 as the play-offs finalconclude on Nov. 12. The winner will join a Euro 2020 group with the Netherlands, Ukraine and Austria. Games will be played in Amsterdam and Bucharest. Euro 2020, originally scheduled for June 12-July 12, was pushed back 12 months because of the Covid-19 pandemic and is now due to be held from June 11-July 11 next year.