Slovakia celebrates after advancing - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Slovakia celebrates after advancing

25/06/2010 04:41:12 AM Comments (0)

Slovakia burst into celebration after the national football team pulled off a major surprise at the World Cup on Thursday, beating defending champion Italy 3-2 and unexpectedly advancing to the round of 16.

Slovakia qualified for the World Cup for the first time, finally emerging out of the shadow of its neighbour, the Czech Republic. But the team was considered an outsider, facing Paraguay, New Zealand and Italy in Group F.

Fans who were watching the match in front of a giant screen in downtown Bratislava and all across Slovakia were screaming in joy after the win, some with tears of joy in their eyes.

"It was not a miracle, but reality on the pitch in Johannesburg," Slovak President Ivan Gasparovic said in a text message sent to The Associated Press through his spokesman.

"Our players were doing all they could, played fantastic and deserved to win," he said. "I'm absolutely delighted and so is the entire Slovakia."

Slovak public television called the win "the biggest moment of Slovak football."

"It's fantastic," said Jozef Adamec, who was a member of the Czechoslovak team that reached the final at the 1962 World Cup in Chile. "A sensational result at the World Cup for the players. Their victory over Italy made me so happy."

Former coach Jozef Venglos, who led Czechoslovakia to the quarterfinals at the 1990 World Cup, called the result "phenomenal."

"Our players proved that they haven't qualified for the tournament by accident," Venglos said.

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