We came, we sang we laughed, but ultimately we went home with the bitter taste of disappointment in our mouths. This past Tuesday morning Slovakia took on New Zealand and our community mobilized. This was an incredibly important occasion for Slovaks everywhere. It was the very first time we were fortunate enough to see an independent Slovakia take to the pitch in a major soccer tournament.
So huddled together at 7:30 a.m. in our church hall in Mississauga, we watched our team take to the field. Slovakia managed to dominate the lion’s share of the game, keeping people in the hall quite content and eager for more. Finally the moment came, 15 minutes into the second half, forward Robert Vittek redirected a cross off the top of his head and into the back of the Kiwi net. It should come as no surprise that the hall exploded in a massive roar that I’m sure could be heard long and far.
We were ecstatic! Slovakia was up 1 – 0 and we were taking it to New Zealand. Just about every shot on net or dominant challenge won by the Slovaks got a rousing applause from the crowd. No more was this the case than through the lightning quick speed on display courtesy of Vladimir Weiss. The Slovak winger put on a clinic, out pacing just about everyone on the field including his teammates who would often be a step or two behind. Being only 20 years old and the son of the coach, his inclusion in the squad was controversial, although he had certainly earned his spot in the minds of all those present Tuesday morning in Mississauga.
As the clock counted down and we began to see three points within reach, all our hopes crashed. With less than 30 seconds remaining in the game, New Zealand scored a near identical goal to the one scored by the Slovaks half an hour prior. This was incredibly demoralizing, as it was clear that this would certainly be a painful blow to what had been an otherwise solid performance for Slovakia.
Although the community took the draw as bitterly as a defeat, we still have two games to prove our worth at the FIFA World Cup.About Stefan Slovak