The Czech Republic's footballers have scored an historic success at the Under 20s World Cup in Canada, where they have reached the semi-finals in the competition for the first time ever. After defeating Japan on penalties in the previous round, the Czechs ended up taking the same route past Spain in the quarter-finals, going through 4:3 on spot kicks after that game ended 1:1. Spain's juniors hadn't lost a game for three years and were among the favourites at the World Cup; Czech midfielder Ondrej Kudela said he and his teammates had expected a tougher encounter.
"You could see that they were nervous. They looked tired and frustrated, and like they didn't want to win. I think that our defending is what frustrated them...I think it was a strange match from their point of view."
The Czech Under 20s face Austria on Wednesday for a place in the final. By the way, their double penalty success in Canada builds on a remarkable Czech tradition: starting with the final of the 1976 European Championships, the country has to date won every penalty shoot-out faced in a major competition.
Midfielder Patrik Berger has surprised many by signalling his desire to return to the Czech national team - the 33-year-old retired from international football a full six years ago.
The Czech women's tennis team will have to wait another year for a crack at winning a place in the Fed Cup's elite World Group. Playing without world number nine Nicole Vaidisova, who is ill, the Czechs lost 4:1 away to Spain, with their only win coming from Lucie Safarova in the singles. The team's coach Ales Kodat (who is actually Nicole Vaidisova's step-father) had this to say after the weekend's tie.
"Nicole's absence and the fact the Spanish were playing at home had a great influence on the outcome. From the very first ball on Saturday the Spanish girls were really good...It's clear we have what it takes, but not everything came together. If Nicole was well things could have been a lot different."
Ondrej Synek has won the Rowing World Cup for the second time in his career, after finishing third in the third and final regatta of the season in Switzerland's Lucerne. But Synek wasn't getting too carried away celebrating his latest success - the 24-year-old said he took the event as practice for the Rowing World Championships, which get underway in Munich at the end of next month.
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