There are only five days remaining until the European football championship begins in Switzerland and Austria, with the Czech Republic set to take on the Swiss in the opening game. After beating Lithuania 2:0 last Tuesday, the Czech squad completed their preparations for Euro 2008 with a rather impressive 3:1 win over Scotland in Prague on Friday. Two of those goals came from Libor Sionko, and two excellent goals they were too – he may now have done enough to persuade coach Karel Bruckner he deserves a place in the starting line up on Saturday evening. At Prague Airport, just before the Czech squad left for the championship, I asked Sionko how pleased he was with his performance on Friday.
“Of course I have to be happy because we won 3:1 and I scored two goals.”
“(laughs) It’s not my choice, it’s up to our coach. I would like to play of course, but really it’s up to the coach.”
Would you say it’s fair to say that the Czech Republic and Portugal are the favourites in your group?
“Yeah, everybody says Portugal is the favourite and that we have a good chance. But I think that Switzerland and Turkey still have good teams and anything can happen in the group.”
Apart from the Czech Republic, who do you tip to win the whole tournament?
“I think France or Italy will go very far.”
Two Czech singles players have made it into the second week at tennis’s French Open. Radek Štěpánek made the last 16 after beating Spain’s Tommy Robredo 6-3 6-2 6-1; he faces another Spaniard, David Ferrer, later on Monday, after the recording of this programme. Meanwhile, the rather less well known Czech Petra Kvitová is also in the fourth round at Roland Garros. The unseeded 18-year-old beat Agnes Szavay of Hungary 7-6 4-6 6-2 to set up a battle for the quarter-finals with Kaia Kanepi of Estonia.
The young Czech ice hockey star Jiří Hudler scored what he describes as the most important goal of his career on Sunday. His strike in the third period gave Detroit a 2:1 win over Philadelphia in the Stanley Cup playoffs. That result leaves Detroit – whose bench is currently being warmed by Czech goaltender Dominik Hašek – 3:1 ahead in the best of seven games series. Hudler and Hašek could be holding the trophy on Monday night if they win game five.
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