In Sports News this Monday: Czech national football team draws against Denmark in World Cup qualifier; in tennis, three Czechs reach finals at US Open but fail to win; in hockey, Lev Prague premieres in Kontinental Hockey League; and Czech athletes win 11 medal at London Paralympics.
The Czech Republic’s national football team drew 0:0 against Denmark in Copenhagen on Saturday, in their opening game of the qualification for the World Cup 2014 in Brazil. The Czechs, who played without injured captain Tomáš Rosický and midfielders Daniel Kolář and Václav Pilař, only took a single shot at the goal against the hosts who dominated the game. But their defence held out steady, many times thanks to Chelsea’s Petr Čech in the goal.
“I was lucky that I could see all the shots. What was most dangerous however was the pitch, because it was only laid down two days ago and every strip is different. The ball sometimes bounced off and sometimes it slid, and sometimes it bounced in a funny way. But I think the most difficult shots came in the first half that jumped right in front of me.”
The Czech team disappointed their fans with the defensive tactics. But as coach Michal Bílek pointed out after the game, the team’s first point in the World Cup qualification Group B was just as much as the Czechs could hope for.
“First of all, we had issues with the line-up which was difficult to put together as we have some many injured players. We also played against an opponent that was a favourite in the game. So we have to be happy about that point. It was hard-won.”
The Czech national team is next playing Finland in a friendly game, before taking on Malta in October in Prague.
Three Czech players reached the finals of the US Open – but none of them managed to win the title. In women’s doubles, Andrea Hlaváčková and Lucie Hardecká, seeded third, lost to the second seed Sara Errani and Roberta Vinci of Italy 4:6, 2:6 on Sunday and failed to win their second Grand Slam title in their careers. In men’s doubles, Czech Radek Štěpánek with India’s Leander Paes, seeded fifth, lost to the second seeds Bryan brothers from the US 3:6, 4:6 in the final.
In men’s singles, Tomáš Berdych who knocked out world number one Roger Federer in the quarterfinal failed to reach Sunday’s final when he lost to Andy Murray 7:5, 2:6, 1:6, 6:7 on Saturday. The Czech sixth seed complained about strong wind which made it difficult to serve.
“Of course, right now it’s sad. I don’t like to lose, and I didn’t like losing this match in the semis which I thought I had a good chance in. But the best thing I can say is that the wind blew it away from me. In a couple of days, I’ll probably see it in a positive light, in that I reached the semis and played a great game against Roger, and will just keep going forward.”
In ice hockey, a new Prague-based club Lev Praha had a successful premiere in the Kontinental Hockey League on Thursday when they beat Dinamo Riga 2:1. The Lions were losing 1:0 but came back and took three points thanks to Slovak forwards Lubomír Bartečko and Tomáš Surový. Bartečko spoke to Radio Prague about what he thought of the match.
“For us, this game was very important as far as getting into the game and winning it. With our new franchise and a lot of speculation from a lot of people if we are going to survive or not, I think it was very important.
“For me personally, getting the first goal was also important. For every player, getting the first one in is like a kick-start into the season. So it’s good. We enjoyed it and I’m happy we got the win.”
In their second appearance in the Russian-based league, Lev Prague lost 1:4 to Spartak Moscow in Prague on Saturday. In their three-match home stretch, the new franchise play Donbass Donetsk later on Monday before going to play three games in Russia and Belarus.
Czech athletes won 11 medals at the 2012 Paralympics which came to a close in London on Sunday. Jiří Ježek won gold in cycling. The Czechs also won six silver medals – in archery, club and discus throw, cycling and in boccia, along with four bronze medals which came in cycling, shot put and swimming.
Jiří Ježek won his 11th medal in London to become the most successful cyclist in the history of the Paralympics. The gold medallist told Czech Radio he was considering competing at the next Paralympics in Rio de Janiero.
“I’ll be getting back to Prague where I will keep cycling because there are many races scheduled before the end of the season. I will also start getting ready for the future because I can say now that I have decided to go on. I’m not sure if I make it to Rio de Janeiro but I will continue for at the least two or three more seasons.”
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