04-04-2002

The repercussions are still being felt after last Saturday's outrageous attack on the Sparta Prague football team's bus by disgruntled supporters. Several of the team's players have expressed shock at the fans' actions and the club have requested police protection when they visit Slavia on Friday. After Sparta's away defeat to Jablonec last Saturday, the hooligans used seven cars to force the team's coach to stop on the motorway before throwing missiles at it, including a bottle which broke the windscreen of the bus.

Sparta have not been playing too well since the season resumed after the winter break and there has been a lot of speculation that manager Jaroslav Hrebik will be shown the door. The favourites for the biggest job in domestic Czech football are former national coach Josef Chovanec and Ostrava manager Jozef Jarabinsky. Another name being mentioned is Hrebik's current right-hand man, assistant coach Vitezslav Lavicka. Appropriately enough - given where he sits - Lavicka's name means 'bench'.

Sparta's 2:0 defeat by Jablonec opened the way for the neutral's favourites Liberec to go to the top of the league with a 3:1 away win over Drnovice. Things could hardly be tighter at the top of the table. Liberec are just one point ahead of Sparta and two in front of Zizkov. All three teams have just six more games this season with Liberec having possibly the easiest run-in.

Drnovice, currently third from the bottom in the league, are reported to be facing extinction. The club have had financial problems since the former owner Jan Gottwald, one time deputy head of the Czech football association, was taken into custody on charges of large-scale fraud. Drnovice are planning a mass sell-off of players, and could have to withdraw from the league altogether.

The line-up for the final of the ice hockey Extraliga play-offs has been decided; favourites Sparta Prague will play Vitkovice. The first game takes place at Sparta on Saturday and the first to win three games will win the series. And next season there will be a new face in the Extraliga - Liberec have been promoted to the top flight for the first time in their history.

The racing driver Tomas Enge, who last season became the first Czech ever to take part in Formula 1, failed to complete the Formula 3000 race in Brazil's Sao Paulo last weekend. Enge was in front in the first Formula 3000 race of the season with only six laps to go before having to withdraw with a problem with his fuel pump. Enge said afterwards that he had never had such bad luck in his career.

Czech Republic's Davis Cup tennis team is currently preparing for a World Group quarter-final match against France this weekend. The Czech team is made up of Jiri Novak and Bohdan Ulihrach in the singles, Novak and David Rikl in the doubles and Jan Vacek as substitute, along with non-playing captain Jan Kukal. While the match is being played in the town of Pau, the Czech team is staying at the nearby Lourdes. Maybe, said Kukal, Lourdes will bring the Czechs a miracle, such as a place in the semi-finals.

04-04-2002