Slovakia call Euro a success despite Germany defeat
By Philip Blenkinsop
LILLE, France (Reuters) - Slovakia coach Jan Kozak said his side should consider their performance at Euro 2016 a success despite a humbling 3-0 defeat to world champions Germany in the round of 16 on Sunday.
Slovakia qualified third in a group containing England, Russia and Wales, but were totally outclassed by a German side, that could even afford to miss a penalty.
Asked if Slovakia should regard their progression to the last 16 a success, Kozak said yes.
"Any defeat is painful but there should be a good feeling that we got to the last 1ast 16 and played the world champions," he said, noting that Germany's last loss had come against Slovakia, a 3-1 defeat in a friendly on May 29.
"We've played them twice now. One win and one loss, so that's okay," he said.
Kozak said the match had opened his eyes and given him a better insight into his players' character.
"It's been very instructive", he said.
Letting in a first goal inside eight minutes had left his side with too much to do, he added.
"We gave too much space to allow them to link up", he said. "I think we played with a little bit of fear. They showed so much quality, it was difficult to do anything about it."
"If you have two or three players not fully concentrating and not following instructions, it makes it very difficult," he added, without naming anybody.
Midfielder Marek Hamsik agreed that Slovakia could have done better, but should be satisfied with what they had achieved.
"We might have done more to attack but we have a strong team and things to build on," he said. "We need to just cheer up and look to the future."
That future will start in September when they host England in a World Cup qualifier, in a group also containing Scotland, Slovenia, Lithuania and Malta.
(editing by Patrick Vignal)