Vittek outshines more feted rivals

PRETORIA - Slovakia forward Robert Vittek admired the view from the top of the World Cup scoring table on Friday while his team mates wondered how many more goals were up his sleeve after a barren spell in qualifying.

With three goals, the tall 28-year-old is joint top with Argentina's Gonzalo Higuain and his sharpness in the box and a shiny head ideal for heading have propelled Slovakia into the last 16 in their first World Cup.

He failed to score in Slovakia's qualifying campaign but that was more to do with his ability to set others up than a loss of form.

"It's not just about scoring goals, it's about passing the ball," Vittek, man of the match twice in three games in South Africa, told Reuters.

His header in the 1-1 draw against New Zealand and two goals on Thursday in the 3-2 win over Italy that sent the holders home have put Vittek's international total at 22, level with Szilard Nemeth's all time Slovak record.

He could beat that mark and stay at the top of the standings above much more established names here if he can get on the scoresheet against Netherlands in Durban on Monday.

"I am not thinking about that," said Vittek, who had spells in leagues in Slovakia, Germany and France before joining Turkish club Ankaragucu early this year to get more playing time before the World Cup.

"Of course I'm pleased for myself but I'm also pleased for the team."

So modest and generous is Vittek that he said after the Italy match that he wished he could break his man-of-the-match trophy into little pieces and share it with his team mates.

As the country's second most capped player behind the injured Miroslav Karhan, he inspires others.

"Vittek is not just a great striker, he is a great guy and holds us together," defender Peter Pekarik told Reuters.

"He is one of the most experienced players. His success will have a big influence on us and motivates us."

When asked whether Vittek would end up being the tournament's top scorer, defender Jan Durica smiled and replied: "I will be so happy if in the next game he will shoot three goals."

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