Sports News

By Peter Smith

Yes, it's the sport and starting with the football, the coach of Sparta Prague, Ivan Hasek, has apparently rejected an offer to take the reigns at Panathanaikos, according to newspaper reports in Greece. The much sought-after Hasek has turned down a three-year deal with the Athens club worth over three million US dollars.

Whether Hasek will sign a new contract with the Czech champions remains to be seen. The former Czechoslovakia international was offered a lucrative four-year deal to stay in Prague last Friday.

The Czech Republic international Radek Latal now looks almost certain to leave Bundesliga club Schalke after rejecting yet another offer to extend his contract. Latal has been a regular in the German side ever since his transfer from Moravian club Sigma Olomouc in 1994. Schalke's managing director Rudi Assauer, keen to hold onto one of his team's most popular players, finally gave in on Tuesday when he declared "If he really wants to go, then that's that".

Three of the last four in this year's Czech Cup are now known after Wednesday evening's quarter final matches. Viktoria Zizkov - still brimming with confidence after their recent Gambrinus League over Sparta Prague - recorded a 3-2 home victory over Teplice to move into the semis. Chmel Blsany are also there - the village team triumphed by the same score line at home to Ceske Budejovice. Slavia Prague were already through after their penalty shoot-out victory at Jablonec on Tuesday, and the final place will be decided on Thursday here in Prague when Sparta host the Moravian team Banik Ostrava.

Turning to NHL hockey and the much-hyped battle of the Czech goaltenders was won by the Pittsburgh Penguins veteran Dominik Hasek. Pittsburgh triumphed 2-1 over Philadelphia, who had Hasek's compatriot Roman Cechmanek in goal. A disappointing result, then, for NHL newcomer Cechmanek, who previous to the match had only let in two goals from 102 shots.

Finally to tennis and the ATP Estoril Open in Lisbon, Portugal. In the Second round, Slava Dosedel bowed out in straight sets 6-3, 6-0 to the top seed Juan Carlos Ferrero. It was also a bad day Wednesday for the Czech player Petr Kralert - in his first round match of the Grand Prix Hassan II tournament in Casablanca, Morocco, Kralert went out to the unseeded local favourite Karim Alami in three sets.