Slovakia sets sights on next victim

PRETORIA - World Cup debutants Slovakia, fresh from their stunning 3-2 win over holders Italy, are revelling in their new-found status as giant killers and are on the hunt for the next big upset.

Slovakia went into their final Group F match against Italy bottom of the table after taking just one point in their first two matches.

But they put in a formidable performance in their final game and will now enjoy their moment in the sun while the pressure builds on their next opponents, the Netherlands.

"We didn't have anything to lose because no one expected us to beat Italy, they had all the pressure," said Miroslav Stoch, who helped bring a spark to the Slovak midfield after recovering from injury.

"It will be similar against the Dutch because they have to win, they are expected to, and the pressure will be on them," he told Reuters at the team's hotel. "Whereas we again will have nothing to lose. Nobody expected us to go through then and no one expects us to now."

Despite the optimism, no one in the Slovakia camp underestimates the nature of the challenge ahead.

Asked what he expected from the Netherlands, who topped their Group E with three relatively comfortable victories, Slovakia coach Vladimir Weiss's face lit up.

"The Dutch are a fantastic team," he told reporters in the team's hotel courtyard.

"They have a lot of players who play in the best club teams in the world, in Spain, Italy and England, and with good coaches and great personalities like (Arjen) Robben, (Wesley) Sneijder and (Robin) Van Persie, I could name them all.

"They are one of the favourites in the tournament but you can never know. It is like when we played against Italy, we have a good spirit and we must impress."

Weiss, who was clutching DVDs showing his team's clash against Italy as well as Netherlands' matches, said he could watch their games 20 times over and still struggle to find a fault with the Dutch.

"The favourites are the Dutch, like the Italians were, but you never know," he said, with a smile. "We'll see."

Slovakia play Netherlands in Durban on Monday.

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