Country: The Slovac Republic
Nickname: The Fighting Jondas
US Sports team equivalent:
Player to Watch: All of the top clubs in Europe have their eyes on Marik Hamsik, the best young Slovakian footballer.
Artist to Watch: To be determined.
We don’t want to undercut Slovakia’s accomplishment, but they had a relatively easy time qualifying for this year’s FIFA World Cup. This is the first time Slovakia has made the final stages of an international competition as an autonomous nation. In their group, Northern Ireland faltered down the stretch, the Czech Republic was inconsistent throughout, and Poland never got it’s engine started. And when Slovenia upset Russia, the Slovaks were even overshadowed in the “Unheralded Slavic Nation Qualifying for the World Cup” department.
Equally unexceptional are Slovakia’s present musical contributions. Before splitting from Czechoslovakia, Slovak music was mostly traditional folk with propagandist lyrics. During the rock and roll era of western Europe and the United States, youths in Slovakia would listen from Austria, Luxemburg and whatever other broadcasts that could be tuned in. After Slovakia’s emergence as an independent state, the zeitgeist of the moment took over. Grunge, Britpop, metal, ska and other popular music styles of the 1990′s became, and remain, the go-to genres of the populace. (Oddly, Velvet Revolver never really established a foothold.) Purely from a critic’s perspective, Slovakia is a nation ripe for an emergent band or artist to step up and announce musical superiority.
Much like their nation’s political landscape, the histories of Slovakian football and music are stories to be written. And should Slovakia advance to the knock-out stage of this tournament, it shouldn’t shock anybody. Italy is the clear favorite of Group F but they’ve been known to coast through the group stages. Paraguay has been very good over the last couple of decades, but they’ve never won more than one game in any World Cup Finals. New Zealand is the lowest-ranked team in the tournament. In the case of Slovakia, a lack of defined history could work to the team’s advantage – all they need is to step up and do it.