By Peter Smith
Yes, it's the sport and starting with the football, and former Czech Republic goalkeeper Petr Kouba will end five years of professional misery by signing a one-year contract with a Gambrinus League team on Monday. The Czech stopper - the country's number one during the national team's progress to the final of Euro' 96 in England - has spent the last five years as third or fourth choice keeper at Spanish league club Deportivo La Coruna, during which time he made only a handful of appearances. He has been a free agent since his contract expired with the Primera liga team at the end of July.
"A contract is ready for signing, and I have decided what to do," said 32-year-old Kouba. He refused to name the Czech club but all indications suggest that Kouba will be playing for Jablonec during the forthcoming season.
Turning to the weekend's action in the Intertoto Cup - the entry competition to the UEFA Cup. Village team Chmel Blsany march into the semi-finals after beating Macedonian club Prilep 1-0 in the away leg of their third round tie. The Gambrinus League team had their young keeper Alex Chvalovsky to thank for a series of fine saves during the match - yes, that's Alex Chvalovsky, son of the presently detained former President of the Czech Football Association, Frantisek. The goalless draw from the home leg means Blsany go through to the semi-finals where they will face a rather sterner challenge against Italian team Brescia.
Synod Stare Mesto are out, though - although they won their home leg 4-2 against French club Rennes, the Czech team had already been roundly spanked 5-0 in France the previous weekend.
Finally hockey and the former Philadelphia Flyers defender Michal Sykora has returned to the Czech Republic. The 28-year-old - who won World Championship medals with Czech team in 1996 and 2000 - has signed a one-year contract with the Extraliga club Pardubice. Speaking of his decision to leave the money-soaked NHL, Sykora said "I had a lot of lucrative offers, but money this time didn't play the main part in my decision - I simply wanted to come home." Yes, it's enough to bring a tear to your eye.