Scotland host Slovakia at Hampden Park in a pivotal World Cup qualifier on Thursday night.

Gordon Strachan's side must win if they are to retain any hope of claiming a place at the finals in Russia next year, with their opponents currently second in Group F.

Here, Press Association Sport takes a closer look the Slovakia side.


The name that has dominated Slovakian football for the last decade is Marek Hamsik. The experienced attacking midfielder will win his 100th cap at Hampden, and is closing in on becoming his country's all-time leading goalscorer.

Read more: Who is Slovakia danger man Marek Hamsik? We profile the man set to reach Diego Maradona icon status at Napoli

He has been a regular at Napoli for 10 years and has started every game so far this season in a side that has shot to the top of Serie A, scoring in their latest win over Cagliari. Midfielder Stanislav Labotka is another tipped for big things after scoring at Wembley, while defender Martin Skrtel is well known from his days at Liverpool and former Rangers player Vladimir Weiss is a lively presence on the wing.


They gave England an early scare at Wembley last time out after taking the lead in the opening moments before eventually falling to a 2-1 defeat. Slovakia had been on a run of five consecutive wins in the qualifiers - including a 3-0 victory over Scotland almost a year ago - and will be high on confidence. With just Malta at home to come, a point would virtually be enough to guarantee second spot, assuming Slovenia do not spring a surprise at Wembley.


Unlike Scotland, Slovakia have recent memories of playing in a major international tournament. Since the team regained independence from Czechoslovakia in 1993, they qualified for their first World Cup in 2010 and competed at the European Championship in 2016 - reaching the last 16 on both occasions. Slovakia ended Spain's eight-year, 37-game unbeaten run in qualifiers on their way to France last summer.

Read more: Who is Slovakia danger man Marek Hamsik? We profile the man set to reach Diego Maradona icon status at Napoli


Jan Kozak has been at the Slovakian helm since 2013. A former midfielder and member of the Czechoslovakia squad that finished third at the 1980 European Championship, the 63-year-old led Kosice to the Champions League in 1997, the first Slovakian club to reach the group stages. Kozak is viewed as an impressive motivator and tactician - his 4-6-0 formation proved a success against Spain and he employed ultra-defensive tactics to good effect in a goalless group-stage draw against England in France.