Slovakia fire coach Hapal one month before Euro playoff

(Reuters) - Slovakia fired national team coach Pavel Hapal on Friday, one month before facing Northern Ireland in a playoff for a place at Euro 2020.

The 51-year-old, who missed the 3-2 home defeat by Israel on Wednesday after testing positive for COVID-19, was dismissed despite his side beating Ireland on penalties last week following a 0-0 draw in their playoff semi-final tie.

The Slovak Football Association (SFA) said in a statement that the subsequent defeats to Scotland and Israel in the Nations League had convinced them that it was time to part company.

“(The SFA) judged the results in the UEFA Nations League matches, and the team’s performance, to be insufficient and not meeting the legitimate expectations of the general public,” it said in a statement.

Slovakia are bottom of Group B2 in the Nations League with one point from four games. Hapal, appointed two years ago, was in charge for 17 games with seven wins, three draws and seven defeats.

Slovakia, aiming to qualify for the European championship for the second time, face Northern Ireland in Belfast on Nov. 12. The SFA said a new coach would be named on Tuesday.

Writing by Brian Homewood; Editing by Christian Radnedge