KIE Carew talks to his mate, Michal Winkler from Slovakia about what the Green Army can expect when they visit his home town of Zilina in the North West of the country for the match on Tuesday.
Zilina, on the Váh river is the fourth largest city in Slovakia with a population of around 85,000. With the fixture originally down to take place in the captial, Irish fans have been busy claiming places on planes, trains, and auotmobiles to trek the 200 kilometres from Bratislava. The FAI have arranged special transport to carry supporters between the two locations.
The local team is currently in the Champions League group stage with Chelsea and played against Aston Villa last season in the Europa League. They are one of the Slovak Superliga’s most succesfull teams winning 5 league titles since it formed in 1993. Thank you Wikipedia.
Most important question first. Where are the titty bars?
Ok, where can the Irish boyos go drinking?
There is a nice big square called Marianske Square where most of the travelling fans congregate on the day of the games. It has plenty of bars and restaurants and an Irish bar called The Guinness Irish Pub.
What kind of welcome can we expect?
It depends on how you act. The locals will be friendly if you are friendly. The police are pretty tough though. Be careful of the police because they dont take any s**t.
There will be a good atmosphere in the stadium. It only holds around 11,000 so it is small, but intense. It’s right beside the train station and the Holiday Inn.
Football is now the number one sport in Slovakia after the national team did so well at the World Cup. Ice hockey was the main sport but it’s struggling at the moment.
What players do the Irish need to be careful of?
Weiss who plays with Rangers. He is the manager’s son. Vittek scored two goals against Italy, but he is out injured. Stoch played with Chelsea and is now at Fenerbache. Strba, for me is the best in the team. He is very experienced. Hamsik plays unbelievable for Napoli but doesn’t really do it for the international team. So the Irish should not be that afraid of him. The Slovakian team is built on a compact defence with a very quick counter attack.
View Panoramic images of Zilina, including its Tesco supermarket here.
Every little helps.