06-06-2005

Czechs trounce Andorra in Liberec

Czech Rep - Andorra, photo: CTKCzech Rep - Andorra, photo: CTK It was a weekend dominated by football. For the first time ever the provincial city of Liberec hosted a Czech international on Saturday, when the national team met the amateurs from Andorra for their World Cup Group One qualifier. It was predestined to be a one-sided affair, and with cheers and Mexican waves, the fans watched the squad romp home with an 8-1 victory, the biggest in the 85-year history of Czech international football. The last twelve minutes saw not less than 4 Czech goals. But to be fair on the Andorran team, they did have their moments in the first half, and there was even a hint of a scare when striker Gabriel Riera slipped behind the Czech defence and found the back of the net - at that stage reducing the Czech lead to 2-1. If it hadn't been for the final score, Riera said after the game, it would have been the goal of his career.

The win may have been an impressive showing by the Czechs, but in the end it didn't help them in their World Cup group. Although the result meant they briefly led Group One, later on Saturday the Netherlands beat Romania 2-0 at home, pushing the Czechs once again back into second place. On Wednesday the Czech squad will go into its next qualifier against Macedonia. Once again they play at home, this time in the North Bohemian town of Teplice.

The Czechs' chances of qualifying for the World Cup finals in Germany next year are looking strong. Even if they are beaten in Group One by the Netherlands, at this stage at least they look strongly placed to qualify from second place.

Koller finds his place in the history books

Jan Koller and Tomas Galasek, photo: CTKJan Koller and Tomas Galasek, photo: CTK I just mentioned one record that was broken during Saturday's match. In fact there was also a second. The two-metre striker Jan Koller found a place for himself in the history books, when, thanks to an easy goal in the 30th minute, he became the highest scorer in the history of the Czech international game. His total amounts to 35, one ahead of the legendary Antonin Puc. Koller, nicknamed Dino - or the dinosaur - because of his huge frame, currently plays for Borussia Dortmund, and he received a standing ovation from his home crowd in Liberec.

The promotion battle continues in football's second league

And staying with football, on the eve of the last round of the Czech Republic's second football league, the second promotion place is still up for grabs. Three teams, Plzen, Jihlava and Kladno are all in the running, and all three won over the weekend. The northern Czechs from Most are already guaranteed their place with the Czech elite next season, and Jihlava look best placed to join them. Although they're still behind Viktoria Plzen, Plzen won't be playing next Saturday. If Jihlava beat 12th placed Kromeriz, they'll be promoted.

Hilgert family celebrations on the water

And finally to canoeing, and there were smiles all round from 38-year old Stepanka Hilgertova at the European Championship qualification competition in Prague over the weekend. The Czech Republic's most successful woman canoeist wasn't too worried about failing to get on the winner's podium, because thanks to previous performances her place in the national team is already sealed. The reason for her good mood on Sunday was her 19-year old son Lubos. He managed to defy all expectations and beat the favourites in the K1 kayak single final. So the Hilgert name is clearly one we'll be able to continue to watch for many years to come.

06-06-2005