Starved of first-team chances at PFC Lokomotiv Moskva, Slovakia defender Ján Ďurica has joined Hannover 96 on loan until the end of the season in an attempt to get up to speed ahead of the FIFA World Cup. Indeed, he admits "South Africa is my priority this year", and a side third from bottom in the Bundesliga and leaking goals could present the perfect opportunity to hone his talents.
A look at Ďurica's statistics tells its own story. Between August and Saturday, when he made his Hannover debut, the 28-year-old played five times – all for Slovakia. The first two came in World Cup qualifying as Vladimír Weiss's side finished top in Group 3, earning a historic maiden finals berth, yet frozen out by Lokomotiv coach Yuri Semin he knew the disparity between playing time for club and country was untenable. "That's why I'm glad to have secured this Hannover move," he told Slovak daily, Šport. "I want to be on top form for the World Cup."
Former FC Saturn Moskovskaya Oblast man Ďurica has ground to make up after playing 90 minutes at the weekend as Hannover lost 3-0 at home to fellow strugglers Hertha BSC Berlin. Yet if he needed reassurances, new coach Andreas Bergmann provided it when he spoke of his desire to make the No4 "a permanent fixture in our lineup". Ďurica, you feel, prefers to make his own luck. "If a man trusts himself, has faith, then he can come through the setbacks," he said. "We'll see what happens, but I don't want to be sitting on the bench again. This is a new challenge for me."
A new challenge for the defender, but Germany has become an increasingly popular destination for Slovakian players in recent years. There are now five in the Bundesliga, Ďurica adding his name to a list which also includes Miroslav Karhan (1. FSV Mainz 05), Marek Mintál (1. FC Nürnberg), Peter Pekarík (VfL Wolfsburg) and Stanislav Šesták (VfL Bochum 1848). It is surely a boon for Weiss: One man certainly hopes so.
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