Football goalkeeper Petr Čech proves key in the Czechs’ draw against Peru in the Kirin Cup; Liechtenstein upset Lithuania in Euro 2012 qualifying to boost the Czech Republic’s own tournament chances; Viktoria Žižkov is promoted to the top flight, joining four other Prague clubs; tennis legends Mečíř, Novotná edge Lendl, Mandlíková in mixed-doubles in Prague; hockey goalie Hašek takes time off to hit the singletrack but plans to return in 2012/2013 season.
On Saturday the Czech national football team drew 0:0 with Peru in the three-nation, brewery sponsored Kirin Cup in Japan. The Czech squad, lacklustre and missing several regular starters, played a sloppier first half with the exception of goalkeeper Petr Čech, who denied the Peruvians to keep the score at zero, stopping a ball by Luis Advincula from close range. Soon after, the Czechs created their first scoring chance when Tomáš Necid moved up, but was brought down at the edge of the area. The Czech team played better in the second but it was Peru who came close again when Farfan headed the ball off of the post. Peru ended the tournament with two points in two draws; the Czech Republic face the title-holders Japan in the final match in Yokohama on Tuesday.
Despite the less than inspiring performance in Japan, there was at least some good news for the Czech squad at the weekend regarding qualifying for Euro 2012: the team got a boost after minnows Liechtenstein unexpectedly beat Lithuania 2:0, their first win since October 2007. The upset should improve the Czech squad’s chances of securing second spot in Group I., from which may be possible to qualify either directly for the tournament or by winning a preliminary playoff. Powerhouse Spain top the group with 15 points, followed by the Czechs with nine, Scotland and Latvia four, and Liechtenstein with three.
Viktoria Žižkov at the weekend secured second spot in the second division with a win over Most, meaning the club will return to the top division, the Gambrinus Liga, next season. The team defeated Most 1:0, leading players to crack open the champagne. Žižkov becomes the second Prague club to return to the top flight, following Dukla. The capital is home to three other teams in the league: Sparta, Slavia and Bohemians 1905.
While all eyes were on the French Open at the weekend, back in the Czech Republic tennis fans were able to watch an ‘historic’ exhibition match in mixed doubles between legendary former players Ivan Lendl and Hana Mandlíková against Jana Novotná and Miloš Mečíř, playing in the final game of the Unicredit Czech Open. Lendl and Mandlíková were downed in the tie-break, losing 6:5. Mečíř afterwards recalled that in his professional career that he had only ever beaten Lendl once, but gave much of the credit to his doubles partner. Lendl, meanwhile, told reporters that he was looking forward to a repeat next year.
Speaking of legends, hockey goalie Dominik Hašek, who played in the NHL, the Czech hockey league and most recently the KHL in Russia, is taking a year off in search of adventure in the mountain bike saddle. The goalie – who has two Stanley Cup rings and a gold medal from Nagano ’98 – is planning to bike in Kamchatka and Patagonia. That doesn’t mean that the player is calling it quits where hockey is concerned. Hašek has already made clear he plans to fully prepare and return to hockey in the 2012/2013 season. The Czech media noted that the goalie, famous for his floppy goaltending style, was training again just days into his ‘break’. He’ll be 47-years-old at the time of his planned return.
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