Slovakia shun media to seek vital win

PRETORIA - The birds flying over the training ground made more noise on Friday than the Slovakia players who have retreated into their shells, reeling from the late equaliser they conceded in their World Cup opener.

Rewind a week and the tournament debutants were happy to talk to the media on the pitch after training every day as they excitedly prepared for their first match against New Zealand.

With Sunday's second Group F match against Paraguay fast approaching, the reporters are now kept behind a fence and barbed wire as the players and coach Vladimir Weiss focus on getting the win they need to stand a chance of progressing.

"The coach doesn't want the players getting distracted by the media," team spokeswoman Marianna Cizmarova said. "It is a result of that match (against New Zealand).

"He wants them to concentrate on being a team."

Slovakia had widely been expected to beat the All Whites to go top of Group F and their 1-1 draw has shaken them. They spoke of a "nightmare" and "tragedy" after conceding the last-minute equaliser but Cizmarova said they had come to terms with it now.

With all the teams in the group level on one point, after Italy and Paraguay also drew 1-1 in their opener, there is a lot to play for. If the Slovaks beat Paraguay and get three points, they may also return to their more talkative selves.

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