Czechs crash out of Euro 2008
In this Monday’s Sports News: the Czech Republic crash out of Euro 2008 in a scarcely believable manner, as their last Group A game against Turkey turns into a living nightmare in the last 15 minutes; Czech captain Tomas Ujfaluši says he and his team-mates were short on luck, and energy; meanwhile, manager Karel Bruckner – in charge for the final time – rues the Czechs’ inability to deal with a period of Turkish pressure.
It had all started so positively, a trademark headed goal from Jan Koller in the 34th minute just desserts for Czech dominance. When Jaroslav Plašil added a second just after the hour mark the game seemed to be in the bag.
Tomas Ujfaluši, standing in as captain in the sharply felt absence of Tomas Rosický, tried to put a brave face on things after the game:
Among those quitting international football are Jan Koller (with 55 strikes the all time greatest Czech goalscorer), Tomáš Galásek and possibly Marek Jankulovski. Karel Bruckner, who will be 70 next year, is also quitting after six and a half years as national team manager.
“It was all more or less down to the mistake that allowed them to equalise. The third goal was a collapse – there’s no other way to describe it. When you’re under pressure you can’t fight back with anti-pressure, you just have to defend. You have to hold the ball, make a few counter-attacks – when you’re under pressure you have to cope with it.”
The big question now is: who will now replace Bruckner? Ivan Hašek, many people’s preferred choice, has already ruled himself out, as have several other possible contenders. Would the Czech football association countenance hiring a foreign national coach for the first time?