National women’s football teams plays fantastically at Malta tournament
The Slovakia women’s football team enjoyed much success at this year’s Malta International Women’s Football Tournament, played on 18-23 February 2021. Amidst tight precautions, the national team nevertheless enjoyed wonderful hospitality and had optimal conditions along with the pleasant Mediterranean climate for practising and preparing for the matches as well as during them. Obviously, all of this happened within a “bubble”.
The national team competed in Malta with the cooperation of the Slovak Football Association (SFA), organisers of the VisitMalta Women’s Tournament, and also NR-Sport. The Slovakian national team’s coach, Peter Kopúň, had nothing but good things to say about how everything was run: “It’s a great feeling to know that you’re coming home safely and with everything in order, and I will also say openly that I’m not too keen about going somewhere I haven’t had a chance to look over beforehand. But in this case, everything was tip-top. The pitches were in perfect shape, and so were the opportunities to practise. I spoke with the Swedish team’s coach, whom we’ve had the chance to see more often, and he also praised the facilities very much. The hotel took care of separate dining and reserved a single floor for us. Malta arranged a charter flight and made sure contact was limited. It was a very well-organised tournament.”
Four national women’s football teams played in the tournament, each with a high-powered line-up. They included Sweden, finalists in the 2003 Women’s World Cup and silver medallists at the 2016 Summer Olympics, as well as the Women’s European Champion in 1984. Ranked fifth by FIFA, they were playing at their absolute best coming into the tournament. The Austrians had also shown some success, although without any medals to their name, and in February 2021 were ranked 20th by FIFA. Their 13th place showing among European women’s teams was also evidence of the team’s strength.
Arriving at the tournament, FIFA had ranked the Slovakian women 45th in the world. They would meet first Malta and then Austria. As expected, they shut out the Maltese team with a score of four goals to nil before succumbing to a lone goal scored by the Austrians in a tough battle at the Hibernians Stadium in Paola. The team had possession of the ball for 54% of the match and had seven shots at goal, compared to just five by the Austrians. But Martina Šurnovská’s shot hit the crossbar and the other attempts could not find the back of the net.
“I am glad the matches worked out well for us,” continued the Slovakian coach. “Against Malta, we scored a lot of goals, which before had been harder for us. The team also created enough chances against the Austrians, something good for us as they had played in the European Championships. Although I wasn’t happy with the result, I was certainly pleased with how they played.”
To make the matches more critical and attract more interest, besides the traditional points for victories and draws, there were also points awarded for each goal the teams scored. This meant that the Slovakian women were not particularly harmed by the loss to the Austrians and finished the tournament in second place behind the Swedes.
VISIT MALTA WOMENS TROPHY 2021 AT A GLANCE
Matches: Malta – Slovakia 0:4, Austria – Sweden 1:6, Malta – Sweden 0:3, Slovakia – Austria 0:1.
Box Scores – Slovakia:
Malta – Slovakia 0:4 (0:2 half), Goals: Sluková (10 min.), Panáková (22), Ondrušová (74), Mikolajová (extra time).
Playing for Slovakia: Chládeková – Košíková (subbed at 73 min. by Bytčánková), Bartovičová, Fischerová, Vojteková – Panáková, Bíróová (61 min. Mikolajová), Škorvánková (55 min. Ondrušová) – Hmírová (61 min. Lemešová), Sluková (61 min. Havranová), Šurnovská (73 min. Semanová)
Slovakia – Austria 0:1 (0:1 half), Goals: 14. Höbinger
Playing for Slovakia: Korenčiová – Horváthová, Bartovičová, Fischerová, Zdechovanová (subbed at 84 min. by. Košíková) – Mikolajová, Bíróová, Škorvánková (84 min. Ondrušová) – Šurnovská, Havranová (66 min. Sluková), Hmírová
G W T L Goals Pts
1. Sweden 2 2 0 0 9:1 15
2. Slovakia 2 1 0 1 4:1 7
3. Austria 2 1 0 1 2:6 4
4. Malta 2 0 0 2 0:7 0