It was quite a successful weekend for the Czech sides in the third round of the Intertoto Cup. Only Marila Pribram failed to make the semi-finals - as expected they went down 3-1 away to Aston Villa of England, going out by the same score on aggregate.
Villa took an early lead after the giant striker Dion Dublin nodded home from a Paul Merson corner. However, the home team was rocked in the 22nd when Marek turned home a cross into the box after Tomas Kucera had broken free down the right.
The Premier League side stepped up the pace in the second half, however, and regained the lead after some shocking Pribram defending in the 55th minute. Ian Taylor was on hand to bobble a shot past Caloun.
Villa's new Belgian signing Luc Nilis marked his debut with a goal to seal the tie only 6 minutes later.
So, Pribram's European dream's over, but they live for Chmel Blsany and Sigma Olomouc. Blsany achieved a superb 3-0 victory over Kalmata of Greece - a resounding 8-0 aggregate victory. Olomouc followed up their 1-1 draw from the first leg to beat the Croat side Slaven Belupo by two goals to nil. Only one of the two teams can progress to one of the Intertoto's 3 finals; Blsany and Olomouc face each other in the next round.
Slavia Prague have slightly loftier European expectations this season, and the side that finished runners up in the Czech league last season will take on the Shamkir of Azerbaijan in the Second Qualifying Round of the European Champions League.
Finally, the new owner of financially troubled Banik Ostrava has pledged not to flog the club's young talent to relieve some of their debt burden. Alois Hadamczik told the daily Sport that he also didn't have the money himself to alleviate the situation. "Some people think that I have enough money to finance Banik. That's absolute rubbish. Football clubs are factories that lose money and hard work is needed to get money."
Should make the Banik fans feel a whole lot better about life, I imagine. Of course, the fact that the club sold Czech Under-21 star Marek Jankulovski to Naples for a club-record 76 million Czech crowns only a few days before Hadamczik's comments might make them a bit nervous...