Sports News

Vladimir Smicer, photo: CTK

In Sports News: the Czech Republic have drawn a tough qualifying group for Euro 2008, says Vladimir Smicer; Czech captain Tomas Galasek is to leave Ajax after six years; Czech Martin Damm and partner Leander Paes lose in the doubles final at the Australian Open; and Jaromir Jagr and the rest of the Czech colony at the New York Rangers go on a scoring spree.

Czech draw for Euro 2008 tough, says Smicer

Vladimir Smicer,  photo: CTK
The Czech Republic's football team are currently focusing on the World Cup in Germany, with the main concerns over the fitness of key players like Jan Koller. But whatever happens at the World Cup, the Czechs know they will have quite a difficult task qualifying for the next European Championships, which take place in Switzerland and Austria in 2008. Their group includes former federal partners Slovakia, Germany, Ireland, Wales, Cyprus and San Marino. Experienced midfielder Vladimir Smicer gave his reaction to Friday's draw.

"I think it's a really, really hard group. I know two countries qualify, but Ireland are one of the better teams in Europe. And if you consider we also have Germany, Slovakia and Wales...they are attractive opponents, which is great for the fans, as it means every point will count and it will go right to the last game."

Vladimir Smicer probably won't take part in any of those matches: a number of players of his generation - including Karel Poborsky, and Pavel Nedved - are expected to hang up their international boots after the World Cup.

Nedved to commentate on Olympics ice hockey at for Italian TV

Pavel Nedved,  photo: CTK
Pavel Nedved is to fulfill an unusual role during the forthcoming Winter Olympics in Turin, when he will be a co-commentator on Czech ice hockey games for Italian television.

Galasek set to leave Ajax as free agent

His successor as Czech international captain, Tomas Galasek, says he will leave Ajax Amsterdam in the summer after failing to agree on a new contract. Galasek, who is 33, has been at the great Dutch club for six years.

Inter Milan keen to buy Czech teenager

Jan Polak could be going to Italian giants Inter Milan. But not the Czech international and Nuremberg midfielder Jan Polak - they're interested in his 16-year-old namesake, who is at Liberec but has yet to make a Czech league appearance. If Inter do sign the promising youngster, Polak is likely to remain at Liberec on loan.

Czech Damm loses in doubles final at Australian Open

Leander Paes  (left) and Martin Damm,  photo: CTK
While most of the Czech Republic's singles players didn't fare well at the Australian Open, Czech Martin Damm reached the final in the doubles with his partner Leander Paes of India. They took the first set but eventually lost to American twins Bob and Mike Bryan, in what was a very exciting match. Here is Martin Damm.

"We had chances, we had a number of break-balls in the third set but we just needed a bit more luck. We're disappointed of course with the chances we blew, but at the same time we fought till the last ball. There were 12,000 people there and they jumped out of their seats many times!"

By the way, Martin Damm's colleague Leander Paes has another Czech connection - he has also partnered the great Martina Navratilova in the mixed doubles.

Current Czech women's number one, 16-year-old Nicole Vaidisova, has climbed to 14 in the world rankings after making the last 16 in the Australian Open.

Czechs among the points for New York Rangers

Less than two weeks before the Winter Olympics in Turin the Czech ice hockey star Jaromir Jagr is in fine form. Jagr notched up two goals and an assist for his New York Rangers in their 7:1 thrashing of his former club Pittsburg. There is a real Czech colony at Rangers, and Czechs Rucinsky, Rozsival, Pucha, Malik, Straka and Sykora were also among the points in Sunday's game.