Slovakia will play without captain Marek Hamsik at the European Football Championship rehearsal in Vienna against Austria on Sunday (17:30). Head coach Stefan Tarkovic said at a news conference on Saturday afternoon that the 33-year-old is not back at 100 per cent after a calf injury. “It will be a risk, so he will not play tomorrow.”
With 126 internationals and 26 goals, Hamsik is the most experienced international player in the Slovakian squad of 26 players. The former attacking star of SSC Napoli is now making his living at IFK Gothenburg in Sweden after an adventure in China. “I always feel better,” Hamsik said. “But it’s still not 100 percent, so I have to be careful.” The Slovaks will play their opening match of the European Championship against Poland on 14 June in St Petersburg.
Video: Fouda Ali, star of the Austrian Federation David Alaba
Aside from his captain, Tarkovic wants to send the best possible team out onto the field against Austria. “It’s rehearsal, you can’t experience it as much,” said the Slovak coach. So he may disagree with ÖFB boss Franco Foda, who, according to his own account, is considering giving one of the regular players a break before the European Championship due to the heavy pressure in the past weeks and months.
Tarkovic: Austria ‘dominant team’
“2021 is very specific, we only have two test matches,” Tarkovic said. “You can’t try something during the tournament, it must have happened before.” The Austrians will surely send a strong team to the field. “They have good and very experienced players.” The 48-year-old highlights future Real Madrid professional David Alaba “Of course there are teams whether Alaba plays in a position or another player. But the principle of their game will not change.”
Fouda developed his own personality with the ÖFB team through a long cooperation (since the end of 2017). “They are strong in both games, a dominant team, very confident,” Tarkovic said. “You play well in the middle and use the small spaces.” Tarkovic himself has been with the Slovak Federation since 2013, but has only been head of the team since October. He also wants to play to win in Vienna. “You play every game to win. That’s the main thing.” The game is also important in order to identify any weaknesses before EM.
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