Slovakia return to action on Tuesday night when they travel to Austria to face off against Bulgaria in an international friendly.
Stefan Tarkovic’s side are gearing up for their imminent return to the European Championship, whereas Bulgaria’s bid to qualify for the tournament ended in failure.
Back-to-back European Championship finals appearances for the first time as an independent nation could represent a new chapter in Slovakian football, as Tarkovic somehow attempts to navigate his side through a daunting Group E with Spain, Sweden and Poland next month.
A third-placed finish in qualification forced Slovakia to take the long road to the Euros via the playoffs, and the Republic of Ireland fell victim to the Sokoli’s prowess from the penalty spot before their neighbours Northern Ireland succumbed to an extra-time Michal Duris winner in the playoff final as jubilant scenes followed for Slovakia.
A spot in the finals tournament awaits for Slovakia as they endeavour to build on their last-16 finish in the 2016 edition, and while their Nations League campaign was a forgettable affair, the Sokoli have made an unbeaten start to their World Cup Qualifying campaign under the tutelage of new manager Tarkovic.
Over the course of one week in March, Slovakia took one point from encounters with Cyprus and Malta before securing a 2-1 win over Russia in their most recent fixture, but they remain outside of the top two by one point at this early stage.
Slovakia enter their friendly with Bulgaria having lost just one of their last six games in all competitions, but they must also lock horns with Austria in preparation for the European Championship, so the importance of a morale-boosting win against Bulgaria cannot be understated.