When the Czech football team take the field against Canada in a friendly in Teplice on Saturday, all eyes will be on Karel Poborsky; the 31-year-old midfielder will be making his 90th appearance for the Czech Republic, equalling the caps record set by Zdenek Nehoda in the 1980s. Poborsky played his first game for the Czech national team in 1994 but really made an impression two years later, with an unforgettable chipped goal at Euro 96. Poborsky joined Manchester United soon afterwards, and later had stints at Benfica and Lazio, before last May moving to Sparta Prague, where he is captain. Speaking on Wednesday, Karel Poborsky tried to play down the significance of his 90th international cap.
"I hope my equalling the record doesn't have an influence on the game, and that we put in a good performance. As for my future in the game, a lot depends on how my family feel about it and also on how things go at Sparta."
Saturday's friendly will be the first ever game between the Czech Republic and Canada. Meanwhile, the Czech Under 21s will be involved in a more important game this weekend, when they travel to Switzerland for the first leg of their Euro 2004 play-offs. The good news for coach Werner Licka is that captain Jan Polak will be fit for Saturday's match, after picking up a knock in Liberec's 1:0 home defeat against Slavia on Monday.
The Czech senior team captain Pavel Nedved is refusing to talk about speculation he may be named European Footballer of the Year, after this week's release of a list of the top 50 players in Europe. Czech striker Jan Koller also made the top 50, but it is Juventus dynamo Nedved both Czech and Italian pundits are tipping to win the prestigious award. Czech bookies have also made Nedved favourite to take the "Golden Boot".
How the mighty have fallen: two years ago Josef Chovanec was the manager of the Czech national team, this week he was sacked by the distinctly unglamorous Pribram, who are fifth from bottom in the Czech first division. Meanwhile, Chovanec's more successful successor as international manager, Karel Brueckner, has extended his contract until 2006.
Pardubice star Jiri Dopita marked his return to former club Vsetin on Tuesday by netting a hat trick as Pardubice - who lead the Extraliga - won 5:3. Elsewhere, second-placed Zlin beat Znojmo 2:1 and Sparta, who are in third, overcame Liberec 3:0. Title-holders Slavia, meanwhile, confirmed their return to form with their fifth win in a row, 3:1 against Karlovy Vary. By the way, Slavia play host to fierce rivals Sparta on Friday.
Czech forward Robert Lang scored a hat-trick for Washington in their 7:1 thrashing of Carolina, with two of Lang's goals coming from Jaromir Jagr assists. Detroit goalie Dominik Hasek is back in action after a groin strain: after keeping a clean-sheet against Chicago on Monday, Hasek conceded two but notched up one assist in the Red Wings' 6:2 win Dallas on Wednesday.
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