Sports News

Czech Republic's football team beat Yugoslavia 5:0, photo: CTK

The Czech Republic's football team is in rare form ahead of their Euro 2004 campaign, and beat Yugoslavia 5:0 on Friday. The country's ice hockey team has had more mixed fortunes, but still came second in the first part of the Euro Hockey Tour. And no medals for the Czech Republic's athletes at the Berlin Golden League. That's all in the Sports News.

Czech Republic in top form ahead of Euro 2004 campaign

Czech Republic's football team beat Yugoslavia 5:0,  photo: CTK
The Czech Republic's football team gave their most impressive performance in a long, long time on Friday, when they hammered Yugoslavia 5:0 in a friendly at Prague's Letna stadium. The Czechs got on the scoreboard after less than two minutes, when a wonderful string of passes ended with a Vladimir Smicer volley which rocked the net. Defender Tomas Ujfalusi got his first ever international goal after 20 minutes, before doubling his tally with another in the second half. Both those goals came from headers, as did the first from an on-form Milan Baros. Baros's second was a real peach, as he somehow kept his balance to beat the keeper and two defenders before stabbing it home. Coach Karel Brueckner said despite the fact that it was a friendly, his team had not gone into the game without ambition.

"Like we said before the game it wasn't just a dress rehearsal for the Moldova game but a regular international, with all that that entails. That means...the game, performance, result and advance. Again tonight the team played in a really compact way. The back four played and the whole team played well when they had to defend. We have our own playing style, and I think whoever plays can slot into that style. Our system is much more important than the actual players who get picked."

And the Czech Republic face Moldova in October, in the first game of their qualification campaign for Euro 2004. One player who looks unlikely for that game is Vladimir Smicer; the Liverpool midfielder sustained a toe injury during Friday's game, and expects to be out for six weeks. Captain Pavel Nedved and Milan Baros will also miss the Moldova game - both players are suspended after being sent off in the World Cup play-off against Belgium.

Russia a bogey team for Czech hockey side this year

Karel Rachunek  (left) and Alexandr Koroljuk,  photo: CTK
Traditional foes Russia have really been the Czech ice hockey team's bogey team this year. The Ruskies knocked the Czechs out of both the Olympics and the World Championships, beat them in a friendly last Tuesday and again - 3:1 - in the first game of the Euro Hockey tour in Zlin, south Moravia, on Thursday evening. Things went a lot better for the Czech Republic after that first game, and they trounced the Finns 7:2 and came from behind to beat Sweden 6:5 in the last game of the tournament on Sunday.

The Czechs came second overall behind Russia, and are therefore also second in the Euro Hockey tour. So a mixed week for new Czech coach Slavomir Lener, who said that on the whole he was satisfied. We wanted to establish the nucleus of a new team, and we've succeeded in doing so, said Lener.

Litvinov sign Stanley Cup-winner Slegr from Detroit

In other hockey news, Czech Extraliga club Litvinov have just signed Jiri Slegr. The tough defender won a Stanley Cup ring with Detroit in the NHL last season, and was a member of the Czech team which won the Winter Olympics in Nagano in 1998.

No medals for Czech athletes in Berlin

Athletics' last Golden League meeting of the season took place in Berlin on Friday, though it was not a lucky evening for Czech participants. Jiri Muzik, who won silver at the European Championships earlier this year, came fifth in the 400 metres hurdles. And the European champion in the decathlon Roman Sebrle also failed to reach the podium; Sebrle perhaps forgivably distracted by the birth of his first child, just two days before the Berlin meeting.