In this Monday’s Sports News: Footballers need to take maximum from “key game” against Azerbaijan after 3:0 loss to Germany in World Cup qualifiers; and Charme Look ridden by multiple-winner Jan Faltejsek comes first in 126th Velká pardubická.
The Czech Republic’s footballers have not been enjoying a great World Cup qualifying campaign so far. After a scoreless home draw with Northern Ireland in their opening game, the Czechs were outclassed by World Cup holders Germany in Hamburg on Saturday night, coming a distant second best in every department in a dismal 3:0 defeat.
Midfielder Bořek Dočkal said he and his teammates had failed to execute their game plan: combine quickly and try to catch the Germans on the counterattack.
“We knew they might outplay us and keep possession. But we also knew they would lose the ball, and we thought that’s when our chances would come. But when they hold the ball for so long and then you finally do get possession, you may not have the energy to do execute a decent move. Also, the players who could have had chances and were available for a pass didn’t perhaps perform 100 percent.”
The Czech Republic need to win their next game against Azerbaijan in Ostrava on Tuesday. Otherwise, with the visitors on six points, the Czechs (on one) could lose control of their own destinies as prospective second-place finishers behind group favourites Germany. But Bořek Dočkal says the Azerbaijan clash was always going to be decisive, regardless of the points table.
“For us it would be a key game in any case. If we want to play for qualification to the World Cup, we have no alternative but to manage these home games. They will be no pushovers and it’s going to be an extremely tough game. How many points they have is irrelevant to us – we would need to win in any case if we want to qualify.”
The Czech horse-racing event of the year, the Velká pardubická cross-country steeplechase, was won convincingly by the favourite, Charme Look. It was the nine-year-old’s debut in the race, but its rider Jan Faltejsek was hugely experienced, having won the Velká pardubická four times prior to Sunday. However, Faltejsek – who came first three times on Orphee Des Blins – denied being a specialist in the famous event.
“I wouldn’t put it like that. I’m lucky when it comes to horses. I was lucky with Orphee and with Charme Look. They asked me to ride her here just a month ago. Both Orphee and Charme Look are very strong horses who have no problem with jumps – and have an engine!”
The Velká pardubická, which was held this year for the 126th time, has 31 jumps over 6.9 kilometres. The notoriously difficult steeplechase is known for being chaotic, but this year’s edition was relatively calm. Also noteworthy was the fact that, for only the fourth time since 2002, no foreign jockeys or horses took part.
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