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Slovakia axe boss just one month before winner-takes-all Euro play-off final against Northern Ireland

 

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Pavel Hapal. (Martin Baumann/PA)

Pavel Hapal. (Martin Baumann/PA)

PA

Pavel Hapal. (Martin Baumann/PA)

Slovakia have made the shock decision to part company with head coach Pavel Hapal just four weeks before facing Northern Ireland in their winner-takes-all European Championships play-off final in Belfast.

Despite leading them to a penalty shoot-out win over the Republic of Ireland in their play-off semi-final in Bratislava earlier this month, the Slovakian FA determined that the 51-year-old was not the man to continue their qualifying campaign.

After just about seeing off the Republic, Slovakia lost 3-2 at home to Israel in the Nations League on Wednesday, a game that Hapal missed after testing positive for Covid-19, and that result - along with a further defeat to Scotland - sealed his fate.

Hapal departs the role after 17 games in charge, winning seven of those and drawing a further three, and leaving them bottom of Group B2 in the Nations League with just one point from their four games.

"The SFA judged the results in the Uefa Nations League matches, and the team's performance, to be insufficient and not meeting the legitimate expectations of the general public," read a Slovakian FA statement.

Northern Ireland fans won't have to wait long to discover who will lead their opponents in next month's game at Windsor Park, with Slovakia confirming they will name their new coach for the November 12 tie on Tuesday.

Belfast Telegraph