The Czech national football team on Saturday night staged a second-half comeback to beat the Dutch side 3:2. It was the Czech sides' second win in a row and the Czech Republic have become the first to qualify for the quarter-final round of Euro 2004, the European football championship games now underway in Portugal. The Czech squad conceded two goals to the Netherlands in the first half of the match, but rallied with goals from strikers Jan Koller and Milan Baros to equalise. Then, in the 88th minute, Vladimir Shmicer scored again and the Dutch were unable to respond before the clock ran out. At the time of the third goal, the Dutch side was playing with just 10 men after a player was sent off for a red card foul. The Czech team will face Germany on Wednesday in their last match in the group stage of the Euro 2004 championship. After a dismal 0-0 draw with Latvia on Saturday, Germany need to beat the Czech Republic to guarantee themselves a place in the knock-out stages.
In related news, the Czech Republic football coach Karel Bruckner has been offered free beer for the rest of his life if his team wins Euro 2004. The Bernard brewery is offering him 60 litres of beer per year - the equivalent amount an average Czech drinks annually -- as an incentive to bring the football trophy home. Each player on the Czech squaw will receive 160 litres of beer for one year if they win the final.
The Czechs were to face the Dutch on Saturday evening in both teams' second match of the Group D round of Euro 2004, the football championship now underway in Portugal. The Czech squad is thought to have the psychological advantage going in, having beaten the Netherlands 3-1 in Prague and drawn 1-1 in Amsterdam en route to topping the group and forcing the Dutch into a playoff against Scotland.
As fans of football from around the world will know the European Championships in Portugal - Euro 2004 - have gotten underway and Tuesday evening saw the highly-favoured Czechs open against Latvia - a newcomer to the Euro championship. And though no one expected this game to be exceedingly difficult for the Czech side it almost proved a shocker...
The Czech football team were heavily favoured to beat Latvia on Tuesday night in their opening match at Euro 2004, the European football championship now underway in host country Portugal. The Czech national squad, runner-up eight years ago, is hoping to erase bad memories of Euro 2000 where it was eliminated after defeats in its first two games. If the Czechs defeat Lativa, they will next face the Netherlands and Germany.
In Sports News: as the Czech football team prepare for their opening game at Euro 2004, experienced midfielder Vladimir Smicer tells us even though their opponents on Tuesday are the unfancied Latvia, the first game is always very difficult. In ice hockey, goaltender Dominik Hasek looks set to join Ottawa and Czech tennis number one Jiri Novak has recorded his best ever placing on grass, just a week before Wimbledon.
The Czech national football squad arrived in Portugal on Thursday afternoon to begin their final training sessions ahead of their opening match in the Euro 2000 championship. This coming Tuesday, the Czech Republic faces Latvia, who have never before made it to the European Championship, and are not expected to pose much of a challenge for the Czech team.
Czech police are investigating two more football officials who have been implicated in a bribery scandal that erupted last month. Prosecutor Pavel Pukovec told Czech Radio that football referee Petr Rehor is suspected of having agreed to accept a bribe to favour Synot in its match against Zlin in the top Czech football division. Meanwhile an official of Synot, Igor Stefanko, is being prosecuted for offering a bribe of 200,000 crowns (about $8,000) to the Slovak referee Eduard Cichy to influence a March 13 match at which Synot faced Teplice. So far, seven people, five of them referees, have been accused in the scandal. If tried and convicted, they face up to two years in prison.
On Thursday morning the Czech football team left Prague for the European Championships in Portugal, with fans around the country hoping they can win the tournament for the first time since 1976. Among the stars of the Czech team should be striker Milan Baros, who has scored a very impressive 16 goals in 25 international games - not bad for a 22-year-old. Before the Czech team left for Euro 2004, Ian Willoughby spoke to Milan Baros, and began by asking him how the Czech team's preparations for the tournament had gone.
The Czech Republic has been gripped by football fever ahead of Euro 2004, which gets underway in Portugal on Saturday. The only time the Czechs - or rather Czechoslovakia - won the European Championships was in 1976, when Antonin Panenka's famous chipped penalty entered football lore. Czech football fans have high hopes their team will do well in Portugal - but how does the great Antonin Panenka rate their chances?
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