Slovakia appoint Kocian as national coach

November 2, 2006

BRATISLAVA, Nov 2 (Reuters) - Slovakia appointed Jan Kocian as national soccer coach on Thursday after his predecessor Dusan Galis stepped down to pursue a political career.

Kocian served as assistant coach for the national squad in 1993-1995 and most recently was head coach of German second league team Sportfreunde Siegen.

The 48-year-old steps in at a crucial moment for Slovakia in their quest to qualify for Euro 2008.

The team suffered a crushing 4-1 defeat by Germany last month, and are third in Group D, with six points from four games. The Czechs lead the group with 10 points from four games, followed by Germany on nine points from three games.

'I am not coming to the Slovak national team as a messiah,' Kocian said. 'But I do not think hope for qualifying for Euro 2008 is lost yet.'

Frantisek Laurinec, president of Slovak Soccer Federation (SFZ), told a news conference that Kocian's contract would run until the end of qualifying for the 2010 World Cup.

Kocian's first test will come on Nov. 15 in a friendly against Bulgaria. Slovakia's Euro 2008 qualifying campaign resumes in March with an away game against Cyprus.