Czech footballers off to losing start in campaign to reach 2006 World Cup
The Czech football team have gotten off to a poor start in their campaign to reach the 2006 World Cup, losing 2:0 to the Netherlands in Amsterdam. The two countries have met several times in recent years, but there was no danger of over-familiarity on Wednesday night: the Czechs fielded a makeshift midfield, in the absence of captain Pavel Nedved and other old hands Smicer, Galasek and Poborsky, while Holland's new manager has ditched most of their squad from Euro 2004.
After the match Czech manager Karel Bruckner was reluctant to apportion blame, though he did describe unpunished shirt-pulling by the Dutch as a disgrace. And it was only the first game of a long qualifying campaign. But the Czechs will have to get their form back - and hope the inspirational Nedved doesn't retire - if their fans are to enjoy the "local" World Cup in Germany in two years time.