In Sports News this Monday: the Czech Republic’s footballers beat Poland in Prague but would still need a miracle to reach next year’s World Cup; Czech manager Ivan Hašek says his charges have given their all since he took the helm; and at almost 57 years old, legendary Czech jockey Josef Váňa wins the gruelling Velká pardubická on Tiumen, a horse he himself trains.
Unless a minor miracle occurs, the Czech Republic’s footballers will not be going to the 2010 World Cup in South Africa. The Czechs beat Poland 2:0 in Prague on Saturday night with second half goals from Tomáš Necid and Jaroslav Plašil. However, a game taking place in Bratislava at the same time did not go the Czech Republic’s way: Slovenia beat the hosts Slovakia 2:0, making it all but certain that those two teams will top the group. The only hope the Czechs have now is if they beat Northern Ireland at home on Wednesday – and the Slovenes somehow fail to overcome the part-timers of San Marino, who last won a game five years ago (and that was against Lichtenstein).
Ivan Hašek took over as Czech manager when World Cup qualification was already looking rather uncertain. He was asked what he had said to his players after the game.
“Of course we thanked them for their performance and approach. Nobody was celebrating in the dressing room. But at the same time, they’re pros – they fulfilled their duties for the national team with total dedication. As long as I’ve been here, I couldn’t say anybody had worked less than we asked them to. Quite the opposite. And they’ll also take a really responsible approach for the final game, because they know the game is at home and they’re playing for the fans.”
Hašek appointed himself national coach in his role as head of the Czech football association. He is unlikely to stay on as manager for much longer, and said he will make his plans clear after the game against Northern Ireland. With regards to players, Marek Jankulovski, who has 77 caps, will pull on the Czech jersey for the last time on Wednesday night.
The great Czech jockey Josef Váňa came first in this year’s Velká pardubická on Tiumen, to make it a record six wins in the gruelling steeplechase. Remarkably, Váňa is 57 years old next week, and is said to be the oldest professional jump jockey in the world. On Sunday Váňa utilised his experience from 22 previous rides in the race to send Tiumen in front with only one obstacle, a hurdle, to jump.
“He isn’t a top class horse on the flat but he really has great stamina. Sixteen was maybe a threat, but by then I was coming home. I didn’t look around, as I couldn’t see any horse on either my left or my right…With maybe 40 metres to go I started to believe I could win the Velká pardubická for the sixth time.”
Tiumen was considered to be the worst of four horses trained by Josef Váňa taking part in the 119th Velká pardubická, and he said afterwards he was annoyed runner-up Sixteen, another of his horses, had not come first for the third year in a row. As for whether he himself will race again next year, the jockey, a national legend in the Czech Republic, wasn’t saying.