Jan Kozak underlined just how much he rates playmaker Marek Hamsik, following an assist and a goal with two moments of quality in Slovakia's first ever European Championship victory.
"He is ready for a very big club"
Slovakia were in desperate need of three points and Napoli midfielder Hamsik was the man who unlocked an experienced Russia defence. Kozak explained "his performance today was superb. He helped a lot in defence and scored a beautiful goal which was a major contribution to our victory". Alongside having such an influence offensively, Hamsik won the ball back more than any other player on the pitch.
Kozak hinted that Hamsik could be a target for Europe's elite, despite his current club Napoli finishing second in Serie A and qualifying for the Champions League. "He has matured as a person and a player at Napoli. He is ready for a vey big club". Hamsik is undoubtedly a star at domestic level but has been unable to ultimately prove his worth on the international stage due to a lack of tournament experience. Kozak questioned how far his team could go claiming "I don't know if we will be in the tournament long enough for Hamsik to become one of the stars of the tournament".
"If we had scored first it would have been a different game"
Both Kozak and Russia Head Coach Leonid Slutsky described the importance of the opening exchanges. Kozak suggested "nobody wanted to open up space and concede", whilst his opposite number explained "if we had scored the first goal it would have been a very different game".
Slutsky went on to mention how going behind forced Russia "to change system, expecially in midfield", whilst Kozak believed his side were "in control until the last ten minutes, which seemed very long". Both sides will have to be in top form in their final group games against England and Wales for Slovakia and Russia respectively.