In Sports News this Monday: Plzeň fans give future national team boss Vrba emotional send-off after last league game; leaders Sparta’s final game before winter break throws up curious incidents; and skier Bauer tops World Cup podium for first time in nearly four years.
Emotional farewell for Vrba after last league game as Plzeň boss
In five years, Vrba has helmed the West Bohemians to unprecedented success, including the first two league titles in the club’s history – both times followed by Champions League qualification.
Some Plzeň fans had initially been angry at the news that Vrba was quitting. But in end the crowd at Štruncovy sady gave the 49-year-old a standing ovation that brought tears to his eyes.
“Of course it’s very pleasant. I didn’t know how the fans would behave – some of them had condemned my move. So I’m terribly happy it has been like this. I found out from the Czech FA that there are three stadiums where qualifiers can be played: Sparta, Slavia and Plzeň. So I promise fans that I will be glad to come here with the national team for important games.”
Actually Vrba has one more match at the helm of Viktoria Plzeň, when they welcome CSKA Moscow in the Champions League in eight days’ time.
Sparta go into winter break five points ahead
Plzeň go into the winter break in the Czech domestic league still trailing Sparta Prague by five points. Undefeated in the first half of the season, Sparta beat Jablonec 3:2 away on Saturday in a game that threw up some curious incidents.
One involved Sparta captain David Lafata – who was previously at Jablonec for five years – heading for the wrong bench after swapping pendants with the home captain before kickoff.
The other concerned Sparta’s Marek Matějovský, who is no longer a regular; after coming as a substitute to score the winning goal he refused to celebrate – because, he said, it was a fluke.
“I was trying to centre but it landed at the back post. It was just a lucky goal. I don’t want to comment on my situation. Of course I want to play and if I don’t I can’t be satisfied. I can’t be happy – I’m happy on the pitch… It’s a boost and of course we’re glad we won. But nothing is decided yet.”
Ex-international Ujfaluši set to hang up boots
Meanwhile, Sparta defender Tomáš Ujfaluši is reported to be about to announce his retirement at 35. The former international, who played for Hamburg, Fiorentina and Atletico Madrid, has persistent knee problems.
Bauer wins World Cup race for first time in years
Cross-country skier Lukáš Bauer won his first World Cup race in almost four years at the weekend, when he topped the podium in a 10 kilometre classic in Finland’s Kuusamo. It was the perfect start to a season that will be dominated by February’s Winter Olympics in Sochi.
“It’s definitely very encouraging news, because after years of health problems I was able to train well, even in the summer, for the first time. Such a result at the very start is really great. I believe and I hope that it will put our whole team, the service team, at ease. And I’m sure we’ll build on this in future races.”