Things have not been going well for Czech skier Martin Koukal in the Cross Country World Cup. Last year Koukal shot to fame in the Czech Republic when he became world champion in the 50 kilometres, the first Czech to win a world title for many a long year. At the weekend, however, Koukal could only finish in 45th place in the 30 kilometres in the alpine resort of Toplach. Here's what the Czech world champion had to say after Sunday's race:
"I'm certainly not satisfied with how the race went. It started off pretty well but then in the back of the group there was a collision when somebody tried to overtake somebody else. I think I might have finished further up the field and won some points if it hadn't been for that collision."
Martin Koukal currently lies at 15th in the Cross Country Skiing World Cup rankings.
It's beginning to look like a bad joke: the Czech Republic's footballers have again drawn the Netherlands, this time in their qualifying group for the 2006 World Cup in Germany. The Czechs had a hard task overcoming the Dutch in the qualifying stage of Euro 2004 and will face them again in Portugal, after Holland qualified via the playoffs. Czech reaction to the World Cup draw has been overwhelming negative, with perhaps the best Czech player of all time, Josef Masopust, describing it as a "disaster". The other countries in their group are Romania, Finland, Macedonia, Armenia and Andorra.
The Italian team Lazio have arrived in Prague ahead of Tuesday's all important Champions League clash against Sparta Prague. The best Sparta can hope for is second place in Group G, which would of course mean they would advance to the knock-out stages. To do that, however, the Czech champions need to beat Lazio and hope Besiktas lose to Chelsea. If they come third in Group G, Sparta will remain in Europe after Christmas, albeit in the less glamorous UEFA Cup.
The former Czech international goalkeeper Pavel Srnicek made a kind of comeback on Saturday, when he made his English Premiership debut for Portsmouth, where he is a team-mate of another Czech, Patrik Berger. Srnicek, who is 35, will have been well pleased to have kept a clean sheet for his new club.
Pardubice are opening up an incredible lead at the top of the Czech Extraliga: they beat Vitkovice 5:2 in the latest round on Sunday, while the teams immediately behind them - Slavia, Sparta and Zlin - all lost, leaving Pardubice a whopping 18 points clear of the pack.
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