Sports News

Zuzana Hejnová, photo: ČTK
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In Sports News this Monday: Czechs target playoffs spot after drawing Germany in 2018 World Cup qualifiers; winning start for Plzeň as league begins; König helps Froome to Tour de France victory; and Hejnová wins in London as Špotáková misses top spot by one centimetre.

Czechs targeting playoffs spot after drawing Germany in World Cup qualifiers

Photo: ČTK
The Czech Republic have drawn Germany, Norway, Northern Ireland, Azerbaijan and San Marino in their qualification group for the 2018 World Cup in Russia. The Czechs’ campaign will begin with a home tie against Northern Ireland in September next year, but the greatest interest will surely be in their two games against Germany, who are defending champions.

Czech manager Pavel Vrba says the Germans are clear favourites to top the group – and his team will likely be battling with Norway and Northern Ireland for second spot.

“The group is of course difficult but we will definitely fight for second place and a place in the playoffs. And perhaps we will cause a few surprises in some games… But still the group isn’t that bad – I had a much worse feeling after the draw for Euro 2016. We’ll see how it goes, but I hope we come at least second.”

Title holders Viktoria Plzeň begin defence with win

Viktoria Plzeň versus Slavia Prague (Photo: ČTK)
The new season in the Czech top division got underway at the weekend, with defending champions Viktoria Plzeň carrying on where they left off with an impressive 2:1 home win over Slavia Prague. Elsewhere, Plzeň’s likely main challengers Sparta Prague could only manage a 0:0 away draw with Jihlava. The highest scoring match of the opening round was Slovácko’s 4:3 win over Dukla Prague, with veteran striker Libor Došek getting the first hat-trick of the season for the victors.

Plzeň and Sparta fly out for Champions League qualifiers

Meanwhile, the Plzeň and Sparta squads spent Sunday night in the same hotel by Prague Airport. Plzeň have flown to Israel to face Maccabi Tel-Aviv in the Champions League third qualifying round, while Sparta are now in Moscow for an analogous clash with CSKA. The return legs are on Wednesday next week.

König, seventh in 2014, helps Froome to Tour de France victory as part of Team Sky

Photo: ČTK
Leopold König has become the first Czech cyclist in a decade to feature in the team of the winner of the Tour de France. He helped Team Sky’s Chris Froome to victory a year after he himself finished seventh in the world’s most famous race. König said being part of the team accompanying the winner into Paris was a different feeling from his own breakthrough success in 2014 but that both were wonderful. Roman Kreuziger of the Tinkoff-Saxo team achieved the best individual placing among Czech riders, coming 17th. And the best stage result for a Czech was the sixth notched up by Zdeněk Štybar of Etixx.

Hejnová tops podium in Diamond League again…

Zuzana Hejnová, photo: ČTK
Zuzana Hejnová came first in the women’s 400 metres hurdles at a Diamond League meeting in London on Friday night. The Czech’s success came three weeks after she topped the podium in Paris and means she is second overall in the Diamond League, behind Kaliese Spencer of Jamaica.

… while Špotáková misses first place by one centimetre

Hejnová’s compatriot Barbora Špotáková was less fortunate in the British capital. The world record holder achieved her best throw of the season in the javelin with 65:00 metres… only to see the Latvian Madara Palameika beat her by one centimetre.