Young Czech footballers going for glory after reaching final of Under-20 World Cup

Martin Fenin, Tomas Micola, and Ondrej Mazuch, from right, celebrate Micola's goal during their semi-final match, photo: CTK

So, the dream has come true: the Czech Republic's young footballers have reached the final of the Under-20 World Cup in Canada, which will undoubtedly be the game of their lives. Indeed, the youngsters' coach has described their semi-final win over Austria on Wednesday as one of the greatest accomplishments in the history of Czech football.

Martin Fenin, Tomas Micola and Ondrej Mazuch, from right, celebrate Micola's goal during Wednesday's semi-final photo: CTK
Czechoslovakia twice reached the World Cup final proper, in 1934 and in 1962, losing both times. But a Czech or Czechoslovak Under-20 side had never even got past the quarter-finals at the junior World Cup before the current squad went on their brilliant run in Canada.

The Czech Republic beat both Japan and fancied Spain on penalties on their way to a semi-final clash with Austria. But Wednesday's game - played in front of almost 30,000 spectators - wasn't so hard on the nerves of Czech fans, as coach Miroslav Soukup's tactic of starting with three in attack paid off. Within a quarter of an hour of the kick-off Tomas Micola and Martin Fenin had both found the net, and the score stayed at 2:0 for the rest of the 90 minutes.

Here is the manager of the Czech Under-20s, Miroslav Soukup.

"We had decided the game by the half-hour mark. It would have been good to get a third goal and make it a more emphatic win. But I have to say we deserved that victory and we are going to play in the final, which is unimaginable."

Tomas Micola celebrates his goal against Austria, photo: CTK
Having got this far, the Czech camp have been making it clear that just reaching the final is not enough; they will only be really happy if they take the World Cup trophy home to Prague.

Standing between them and glory will be the winner of Thursday's second semi-final between Argentina and Chile, though whichever South American country they face, the Czechs will have had one more day's rest than their opponents.

Meanwhile, there will also be an advantage for fans here in the Czech Republic: the final will start considerably earlier than previous games, at 9:15 on Sunday evening. Cesi do toho.