04-01-2001

Let's begin with the wonderful achievement of the Under 20s Hockey Team, who have reached the final of the World Junior Championships in Moscow, Russia. Zdenek Blatny scored the only goal of their semi-final against Sweden Wednesday, taking the youngsters through to a final showdown against Finland.

Joint Coach Jaroslav Holik was naturally delighted with the performance, commenting "I am happy for the players - for some of them it will be the final medal of their lives." Confidence exemplified, there!

In football, Slavia Prague have confirmed that their beleaguered coach Karel Jarolim will be staying on at least until the summer of 2002. It had been widely anticipated that Jarolim would step aside at the end of this season for a higher profile name. However, the Slavia chairman Vladimir Leska revealed in a TV interview that the club had attempted to enlist the services of the former Roma, Lazio, Foggia and Napoli coach Zdenek Zeman. Apparently, though, discussions with Zeman broke down over his high salary demands. "Zeman still has some work in Naples," said Leska. "However, it is possible that he will come to Slavia some time in the future."

Lazio are hoping to arrest their drastic slip in form by signing Benfica's out-of-favour Czech winger Karel Poborsky. Lazio boss Sven Goran Eriksson will reportedly sign the player on a three-year contract worth in the region of $7 million, with the Portuguese club expecting to receive a transfer fee in excess of $5 million. In Italy's Series A, it's all pin-money, I suppose.

One player that's had enough of fancy continental living, though, is the Czech international Radislav Latal. The 31-year-old revealed Wednesday that he'll leave Bundesliga leaders Schalke at the end of the season to return to his former club Sigma Olomouc. Latal has played in Germany for the past seven years.