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By ESPN Staff

Slovakia skipper vows to bounce back after defeat

Slovakia captain Robert Vittek has promised his side will bounce back from their defeat to Slovenia to seal a place in the World Cup finals.

• Carter: The final countdown

Slovakia blew a great chance to guarantee a trip to South Africa at the weekend, but can still top Group Three with a win in Poland. If they slip up again, Slovenia can overtake them with a win against minnows San Marino and condemn Slovakia to the play-offs.

But Vittek said: ''This side has huge team spirit. We will perk up and win in Poland. Qualification will be ours. We have never been so close to qualifying. Maybe this was the problem (on Saturday). We allowed emotions to bring down our performance.''

Goalkeeper Jan Mucha made no attempt to play down the importance of Wednesday's tie. ''It will be a game of life and death in Poland,'' he said. ''We have no choice. We have to win and delight all Slovakian fans.''

Slovakia's task will be made harder by the absence of suspended quartet Radoslav Zabavnik, Jan Durica, Martin Skrtel and Miroslav Stoch.

Slovenia manager Matjaz Kek hailed his side's victory over Slovakia and now hopes Poland can do them a favour.

''I have to congratulate my players,'' Kek said. ''They fought all through the match and earned an important victory. We must beat San Marino and then see what happens.''

In the group's other match, the Czech Republic and Northern Ireland face each other knowing only a win will keep alive their extremely faint hopes of a play-off spot.

Those hopes rest on San Marino claiming their first point of the qualifying campaign after nine straight defeats. San Marino have scored just one goal and conceded 44, while Slovenia won the reverse fixture 5-0 in August.

Northern Ireland midfielder Steven Davis said: ''There is a very slim chance we could finish second best but it looks dead in the water. But that will not stop us going out on a high. The higher up the table we finish the better it will be for our seeding at the draw for the Euros (2012 qualifiers).

''It definitely helps your cause and I think we have seen proof of that in the last two campaigns.''

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