Sports News

Czechs - Netherlands, photo: CTK

The Czech Republic's football team have earned a valuable point in their campaign to reach the Euro 2004 Championships in Portugal, with a 1:1 draw away to the Netherlands. In ice hockey, Pardubice are through to the final of the Extraliga play-offs for the first time in nine years, while Slavia Prague are leading Sparta 3:2 in their semi-finals series. And will leading Czech women's tennis player Daja Bedanova adopt German citizenship?

Czechs pick up valuable point away to Netherlands in Euro 2004 qualifier

Czechs - Netherlands, photo: CTK
The Czech Republic's football team have earned a very valuable draw against the Netherlands in their most important Euro 2004 qualifier to date. The Dutch were on top for much of the first half, eventually going ahead through a Van Nistelrooij header just before half-time. In the second half Czech coach Karel Brueckner struck gold when he replaced a still-not-quite-match-fit Tomas Rosicky with Milan Baros. Within a minute of taking the field the Liverpool striker upset the Dutch defence with characteristic speed, crossing for Jan Koller to slot home his 21st international goal and secure a valuable point for the Czech Republic, giving the 5,000 Czech fans who traveled to Rotterdam for the match something to celebrate. Coach Brueckner, meanwhile, offered this assessment.

Coach Brueckner, photo: CTK
"I think we were on top at the end of the first half but it started to slip away, and from controlling the game we went behind to a quick goal and then we were faced with some hard work. Still, if I had to choose when to concede a goal I'd prefer the forty-fourth minute to the ninety-first - in the former case you can react in the changing room at half-time".

Brueckner says he will play the hero of Rotterdam, Milan Baros, from the start of Wednesday's home tie against Austria in Prague. For now an in-form Czech Republic are level on points with Holland at the top of Group 3.

Pardubice make Extraliga play-off finals for first time in nine years...

Moving on to ice hockey and the first place in the finals of the Extraliga play-offs has been won by Pardubice, who you may recall led the table for most of the first part of the season. On Sunday they beat Trinec 5:4 in overtime - with three goals from an excellent Tomas Blazek - to take the best-of-seven series 4:2. That result means Pardubice have reached the Extraliga final for the first in nine years.

...while title-holders Sparta are "on the edge of a precipice"

in semi-finals Who they face in the final series could be decided in the next tie between Slavia and Sparta, as Slavia are leading 3:2 on games. But their Prague rivals have by no means given up, beating Slavia 2:1 at home on Saturday thanks to goals from Martin Spanhel and Jiri Zelenka. Still Sparta, the title holders, are under pressure and coach Alois Hadamcik says his team are "on the edge of a precipice."

Top Czech women's tennis player Bedanjova to adopt German citizenship?

The leading Czech women's tennis player Daja Bedanova may take up German citizenship. Bedanjova, who recently turned 20, has lived in Germany for the last ten years and has reportedly come under pressure from her German sponsors to change her citizenship. The move is seen as likely to improve her earning abilities. Bedanjova, who admits she has been losing sleep over the issue, has yet to reach a decision.