The Slovakia captain Robert Vittek has promised his side will bounce back from their defeat to Slovenia to seal a place in the World Cup finals. Slovakia blew a great chance to guarantee a trip to South Africa at the weekend, but can still top Group Three with a win in Poland tonight. If they slip up again, Slovenia can overtake them with a victory against San Marino and condemn Slovakia to the play-offs.
But the Lille striker Vittek said: "This side has huge team spirit. We will perk up and win in Poland. Qualification will be ours. We have never been so close to qualifying. Maybe this was the problem [on Saturday]. We allowed emotions to bring down our performance." The goalkeeper Jan Mucha made no attempt to play down the importance of today's tie. "It will be a game of life and death in Poland," he said.
In the group's other match, the Czech Republic and Northern Ireland face each other knowing only a win will keep alive their faint hopes of a play-off spot. They rely on San Marino claiming their first point of the qualifying campaign after nine defeats in a row. That is unlikely as San Marino have scored just one goal and conceded 44. * Agencies