NATIONAL TEAM

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Debut in the national team

It was only a matter of time before Robert Mak would get an opportunity to join the national A team. Coaches Stanislav Griga and Michal Hipp nominated him for the first time to play a friendly match against Denmark in August 2012. Robo was injured, however, so his debut was indefinitely postponed.

Half a year passed. He was named to play a friendly match against Belgium, but ended up among the substitutes.  However, Vladimir Weiss Jr. was hurt in a Serie A weekend match, so the coaches decided to take Robert Mak with them to Bruges. Robo got this unexpected news on Monday, January 4, 2012 at half past seven in the morning while he was in Bratislava lying in bed. He had been getting ready that day for the Football of the Year announcement in Trnava. As he said it: "It came as a shock, but it was a very welcome message. I had no sports stuff or even football boots with me, so I had to quickly look for some. I succeeded and was ready to play.” He responded to being called up to play on the national team by saying, “I was going to be grateful for any minute I would be spending on the pitch.”   

His time came an hour into the game when he replaced Miroslav Stoch in the 61st minute. On the field, he showed tremendous zest, driving for the goal and trying to give his teammates opportunities. Less than three minutes after he entered the game, he broke free in the penalty area and the home defense deflected his sharp pass away for a corner kick.  He escaped again on the right wing in the 67th minute and passed the ball to Marek Hamsik for a shot on goal. In the 70th minute, he found Marek Sapara in front of the penalty area, but Van Buyten managed to neutralize him. Then in the 85th minute, it was Robert who took a pass from Sapara in front of the penalty area, dashed towards goalie Gillett and fired a shot only for the goalkeeper to prevent Mak’s first goal with a reflex save.

"After my arrival on the pitch, I wanted to help the team, and I hope I was able to do so. We were able to get moving and played better than the first half. I had no worries or fear about the atmosphere.  After all, there are such huge stadiums and crowds in the German Bundesliga, too," said the 1. FC Nuremberg midfielder and added: "I could never be satisfied with our performance last Wednesday since we lost. But I am satisfied with myself because I won the coach's confidence and I had a premiere start for the national team. I hope it would not be my last appearance. I believe it will continue."

National coach Stanislav Griga praised Robert after his debut as well: "I think he juiced up the team. He moved around wonderfully, something the team lacked in the first half. All we wanted to do in the first half was to play it safe and do everything with out feet. The element of surprise was missing and players were asking for the ball by moving around. This is what Robert brought to the match after his arrival." Even captain Martin Skrtel had a few positive words about the rookies – Robert Mak and Richard Lasik: "I am pleased that the youngsters Lasik and Mak gave a boost to the team and made a good contribution." It was just a shame that the Slovaks lost the match 2:1. Robo was also invited to upcoming national team matches...