Sports News

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Czech Under 21s to face Italy in semi-final of football's European Under 21 Championships. Nedved, Stajner and Rosicky the three candidates for Golden Ball award, while two members of Liberec management team are in running for manager of year. Novak rests ahead of French Open - is he really injured?

Under 21s to face Italy in European Championships semi-final on Saturday

The Czech Under 21s have advanced to the semi-finals at the European Under 21 Championships in Switzerland. On Tuesday the youngsters drew 1:1 with Greece, the only Czech goal a penalty converted by Zdenek Grygera after Milan Baros, the most impressive player in the team, had been felled in the box. The result saw the Czech Republic finish second in their group behind favourites France, and sets up a semi-final clash with Italy - that game takes place on Saturday night.

Czech coach Miroslav Beranek is generally pleased with his team's performances so far, though he has expressed concern that - having scored a lot of goals in the qualifying stages - his boys have only scored two so far in Switzerland, and both of them came from defenders.

Golden Ball to go to Nedved, Rosicky or Stajner

The three candidates for the Golden Ball award for Czech footballer of the year are international captain Pavel Nedved of Juventus, Liberec's Jiri Stajner - the top scorer in the Czech league - and Borussia Dortmund midfielder Tomas Rosicky. The Golden Ball is decided by the Club of Sports Writers and will be announced on May 31st. The vote for manager of the year should be interesting, as two of the three candidates are from Slovan Liberec. Ladislav Skorpil is the official manager, but one of his assistants Josef Csaplar is credited by many with leading Liberec to their first league championship.

And speaking of coaches, it sometimes seems that there are only around ten managers in Czech football and they just go around in circles from one club to the next, and often back to the same club again. Viktoria Zizkov have just signed Vitezslav Lavicka, the man who oversaw Sparta Prague's disastrous end to the season.

Novak rests ahead of French Open - is he really injured?

The leading Czech men's tennis player Jiri Novak has decided to take a break ahead of the French Open, and has pulled out of the ATP Masters in St. Poelten, Austria, where he was the top seed. Novak says he is suffering from a wrist injury, though the official St. Poelten doctor has been quoted as saying that there was no sign of swelling and that it was strange that Novak had not had physiotherapy on the wrist.

Runner battles on despite age, aims for Athens 2004

The Czech 800-metres runner Helena Fuchsova says she is hoping to do well this season, despite the fact that she has been an international athlete since 1987. Fuchsova, who is 37 in a few days time, has just returned from a month's training in the Canary Islands - a popular destination for Czech athletes - and says she is aiming to reach the 2004 Olympics in Athens before calling it a day.