Slovakia named Stefan Tarkovic as interim head coach for Northern Ireland match

The Slovak Football Association have named Stefan Tarkovic as interim head coach as they prepare for next month’s Euro 2020 play-off final against Northern Ireland. The 47-year-old Slovakian Tarkovic will lead the team for the next three internationals of the Slovaks. Tarkovic was previously part of the coaching team under Jan Kozak, who led Slovakia to Euro 2016 in France.

Earlier, 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.

“It is a great honor to coach the national team. It is also the goal and dream of every coach. I will try to build the next squad on honesty, team spirit, and mutual respect,” admitted Tarkovicafter his appointment. He will be assisted by Marek Mintal and Samuel Slovak as they take on Nations League encounters against Scotland and the Czech Republic before a longer-term decision is made on his future.

He will lead the squad along with captain and Chinese Super League Dalian Yifang star Marek Hamsik on November 12th in Belfast against Northern Ireland. The winner of this vital match will advance to the postponed Euro 2020. Tarkovic will be vital part on his side’s journey to a remarkable second successive European Championships qualification.

“It is important that we have chosen someone who knows the players well. He was the assistant coach of the national squad for five and a half years in the past. There is a possibility of extending his contract after the initial three fixtures,” said the president of the Slovak Football Union Jan Kovacik during the announcement.

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.