Sports News

By Ian Willoughby

The big story today - Karel Bruekner has been named as the new coach of the Czech national football team. There was a little bit of controversy over the selection process - Ostrava manager Josef Jarabinsky had originally been the hot favourite but he withdrew his name a couple of days ago, saying the Czech FA had already decided on Bruekner. Bruekner was assistant to former coach Josef Chovanec for five years and also coached the Czech Under 21 side.

The Czech team has been criticised for a lack of discipline and national pride. My colleague Peter Smith asked the general secretary of the Czech FA, Petr Vousek, if he expected Bruekner - given his familiarity with younger players - would get rid of some of the Czech team's older members.

"It depends on him, clearly on him, the vision which players will be invited to the national team - if from the former team, the Under 21s or all of them."

Bruekner's assistants are expected to be Sparta Prague manager Jaroslav Hrebik and Miroslav Beranek, who has just been appointed manager of Slavia Prague. It will be Beranek's second stint as Slavia coach - the club sacked him back in 1995.

Slovan Liberec have drawn Lyon in the next round of the UEFA cup. The first leg takes place away on February 21, the return leg a week later.

And the greatest goal-scorer in Czechoslovak football history Josef Bican has died at the age of 88. Bican played for Austria before the Second World War but after the war he became a Czechoslovak international. Bican is a legend to Czechs - up there with runner Emil Zatopek and gymnast Vera Caslavska.

Moving on to ice hockey now and the Trinec goalkeeper Martin Vojtek has broken the Extraliga clean-sheet record - until Litvinov put one past him on Tuesday he hadn't conceded a goal for 218 minutes. Plzen meanwhile had been hoping to beat the record of nine wins in a row but drew 5:5 with Havirov.

Sparta had a full house for their victory over Kladno on Tuesday. The reason - admission was free. Attendances at Sparta have been falling and the club hopes the free game will attract spectators back to the club.

And finally the Czech Tennis Union has announced that Jan Kukal is to captain the Czech team for next season's Davis Cup and Fed Cup competitions.