Sports News

By Peter Smith

What with it being a week since the last sports report, let's start with football and reflect upon last Friday's draw for the semi-finals of the Czech Cup. It really is a case of David against Goliath in both the semi-finals with and village team Chmel Blsany drawn against the might of champions Sparta Prague whilst Slavia take on Prague's smallest top-flight club Viktoria Zizkov. For Slavia chairman Vladimir Leska it's the chance to end a difficult season for the club on a high...

Vladimir Leska: "I think it's better to play with Viktoria Zizkov than with Sparta. My private dream is that Slavia will play in the final of the Czech Cup against Sparta - I think it will be a very interesting game."

Radio Prague: It's a very good draw for the favourite teams, isn't it? But you must be careful because you have it all to lose - they have nothing to lose.

VL: "Yes, we are always careful - everytime. I know that Vikoria Zizkov have very good quality, last time they were very successful. We have great respect for Viktoria Zizkov."

And Sparta may also have to watch out in their match against the village team Blsany.. not that Blsany's managing director Josef Vejmelka appears thrilled with the prospect of facing the champions..

JV: "I expected to play with Slavia or Zizkov not with Sparta Prague. Especially since Sparta will be playing in this stadium also, since they have some reconstruction. It is always difficult to play against Sparta especially in the semi-finals of the Czech Cup."

Radio Prague: Do you think that your players will rise to the occasion?

Josef Vejmelka:The Gambrinus Liga is the first place for us and we have to get some points there. Semi-final is maybe the maximum for our team. I prefer to stay in the Gambrinus Liga than win the Czech Sport 1 Cup.

Staying with football and Patrick Berger has been recalled to the Czech Republic squad for the first time since his serious knee injury last November. The Liverpool midfielder is one of several changes made by coach Josef Chovanec for the friendly encounter against Belgium in Prague on April 25th.

Also called-up are the Slavia Prague wing-back Lukas Dosek and Napoli's Marek Jankulovski, as Chovanec aims to off-set the worrying aspects of the last World Cup qualifier against Denmark. Also returning to the international fold are Tomas Repka, Ivo Ulich and the Ajax midfielder Tomas Galasek. With Radek Bejbl suspended for the match, the Czech coach has put his trust in the busy Galasek to perform the defensive holding role in midfield.

Turning to athletics and the Czech Olympic Committee have strengthened the criteria required for selection of the team for the 2002 Winter Games in Salt Lake City. The cost involved with sending a full Olympic team, coupled with prize money incentives, is staggering - as an example, the hockey team alone that won gold in Nagano in 1998, received 10 million Czech crowns in prize money from the COC. As the organisation's president, Milan Jirasek, announced the COC do not want 'Olympic tourists' in Salt Lake City.

Finally tennis and Adriana Gersi is through to the second round of the Budapest Grand Prix Women's tournament - the Czech defeated her Slovak rival Karina Habsudova 6-4 6-4. However, Bohdan Ulihrach is out of the Monte Carlo Masters Series in Round 2 - he fell in straight sets to the number nine seed from France, Sebastien Grosjean.