Sports News

Photo: CTK

In Sports News this Monday: Sparta Prague will face Panathinaikos yet again for a place in the Champions League group stage – captain Patrik Berger says any opponent in Sparta’s part of the draw was going to be tough; Tomáš Rosický says he is a footballer reborn after his first game in a year and a half; Jan Koller (36) is reportedly ready to come out of international retirement; and Austria’s Sybille Bammer wins tennis’s Prague’s Open.

Sparta face Panathinaikos yet again in Champions League qualifier

Photo: CTK
Sparta Prague’s officials and players must have had a real feeling of “here we go again” when they drew Panathinaikos in the third qualifying round of football’s Champions League. Sparta have faced the Greek club twice in recent years, losing both times – including in the same stage of the Champions League last season. Captain Patrik Berger says, however, that their part of the draw for the third qualifying round was always going to be tough.

“It would have been hard to choose an opponent – all the teams were difficult. If we want to get into the Champions League we have to beat a difficult opponent …One advantage is that their league starts later, and they won’t yet have found their rhythm. I think they were beatable last year, and it’ll be the same again this year.”

The first, home leg of that tie takes place next week. Slavia Prague, who as Czech champions were in an easier draw, will face either Inter Turku of Finland or the Moldovan side Sherrif Tiraspol for a place in the lucrative Champions League group stage. By the way, before those ties both Czech clubs will have a league game under their belts, with the country’s first division set to get underway again on Friday.

Rosický makes first appearance in Arsenal shirt in year and half

Tomáš Rosický  (right),  photo: CTK
Further afield, perhaps the finest Czech player of his generation, Tomáš Rosický, played for the first time in a year and a half on Saturday. It may only have been for 45 minutes in a warm-up game against Barnet but, after so long on the sidelines with injury problems, the 28-year-old midfielder said it was like he had been born again as a footballer. Czech fans will be hoping to see him back in the national strip on August 12, when the Czech Republic face Belgium in a home friendly.

Koller (36) to return to Czech national side?

Who knows, Rosický could even line up in that game alongside his old Dortmund team mate Jan Koller. The giant striker, who is 36, reportedly told Czech manager Ivan Hašek at the weekend that he was willing to come out of international retirement and represent the Czech Republic again.

Austria’s Sybille Bammer wins Prague Open tennis tournament

Sybille Bammer,  photo: CTK
Tennis’s Prague Open was won by the Austrian player Sybille Bammer. Bammer, who had defeated the Czech Republic’s Iveta Benešová in the semis, beat Italy’s Franceska Schiavone 7-6 6-2 in Sunday’s final to take the USD 37,000 prize money. The Austrian was presented with that cheque by former Wimbledon champion Pat Cash, who also entertained spectators at Prague’s Štvanice with an exhibition doubles match in which he and Henri Leconte beat Mansur Bahrami and Bohdan Ulihrach.