By Peter Smith
Starting with the hockey the Czech Republic warmed up for the forthcoming World Championships with a 2-2 draw against Russia in Brno. The team that the Czechs defeated in the 1998 Olympic Final went ahead through Golc early in the second period, but the hosts fought back with strikes from Radek Dvorak and ------ Kuba. However, the Russians leveled matters late in the game with a second Golc goal.
The Czechs begin the defence of their World title against Belorus in Nuremberg on Saturday, before taking on the hosts Germany in Cologne the next day.
Turning to football and the inevitable finally happened on Saturday, as Sparta Prague became Gambrinus League champions for the 5th successive season. Their 1-0 home victory over local rivals Bohemians came courtesy of a 50th minute goal from Tomas Jun, and means Sparta go 16 points clear of second-placed Olomouc with only 5 matches to play.
'Each time I feel like it's the first title,' said Sparta captain Jiri Novotny. 'This year we're very strong and we want to be the first club to win the league and the cup.' Sparta face village team Chmel Blsany in the semi-finals of the Czech Cup on May 2nd.
Czech national team captain Pavel Nedved has had his appeal against a three-match ban turned down by UEFA's disciplinery committee. The committee rejected the appeal from Nedved's club Lazio that the punishment for his tackle on a young Leeds United player Alan Maybury in a Champions League match last month was too severe.
Tomas Galasek, invited to join the national squad by coach Josef Chovanec, has decided not to take up the offer. The Ajax Amsterdam midfielder has telephoned Chovanec to break the news that he will not be joining the rest of the squad for the friendly match against Belgium in Prague on Wednesday. The coach is reported to have calmly accepted Galasek's excuses.
Galasek told Chovanec that his club commitments were too heavy at present to allow him to travel to Prague, although doubt must surely be cast upon the player's participation in the Czech Republic's remaining World Cup qualifiers and possibly next year's Finals in Japan and South Korea. Even more surprising is that Galasek has been waiting two years for his international recall.