In Sport News this Monday: in football, the Czech national team beats Lithuania to earn a Euro 2012 playoff place while Sparta Prague suffer first league defeat of the season; in tennis, Wimbledon Champion Petra Kvitová takes her fifth WTA title while the Czech women’s team prepares for Fed Cup final; and in cyclocross, world champion finishes third in the World Cup opener.
Following last week’s away win against Lithuania, the Czech national football side finished second in the Euro 2012 qualification group I, 11 points behind group winners Spain. That gave the Czechs a place in the playoffs to reach the European championships; Thursday’s draw in Cracow determined that to qualify they will need to beat Montenegro over two legs. The Czechs are optimistic about their chances of booking a place in the final tournament as they could have been drawn against tougher opponents like Turkey. František Komňacký is an assistant to the national team coach.
“The draw was certainly good to us; having to play Turkey would have been much more difficult. But the fact that Montenegro managed to finish ahead of Switzerland and Wales in their group, that suggests they are also strong and we would be naïve to underestimate the opponent.”
For their part, the Montenegrins also seemed happy to land the Czech Republic as their rival in the playoffs as they avoided Portugal. The first leg of the playoffs is scheduled in Prague while the second will take place a week later in Montenegro.
Meanwhile, action continued in the Czech top football division where after 10 out of 30 rounds, last season’s runners up Sparta Prague have built up an eight-point lead despite a 3:0 defeat by Liberec in their latest match. Saturday’s home defeat was Sparta’s first loss of the season. Sparta’s defender Tomáš Zápotočný said the international break did his team no good at all.
“I think we might have been affected by the international break; other clubs had a chance to train while many of our players were with their national sides and there were only ten of us here. But that’s no excuse; we played horribly while Liberec were great.”
Sparta Prague with 27 points lead the league table, followed by Jablonec in second and Liberec in third. The Czech participant in this year’s Champions League, Viktoria Plzeň, moved up to fourth place after they beat Slovácko 3:1 on Friday, less than a week before they play FC Barcelona in Spain.
Moving on to tennis now: Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitová beat Slovakia’s Dominika Cibulková 6:4, 6:1 in the final of the Linz WTA tournament on Sunday, thereby winning her fifth title of the season. Top seed Kvitová broke the Slovak’s serve six times, wrapping up the match in under 90 minutes. The Linz title is a much needed boost fo Petra Kvitová ahead of the WTA championships in Istanbul later this month.
Petra Kvitová will also be the Czech team’s number one for the upcoming Fed Cup Final against Russia, scheduled for November 5 and 6 in Moscow. Besides her, team captain Petr Pála nominated Lucie Šafářová, Lucie Hradecká and Květa Peschkeová for the match. The Czechs will be attempting to win the Fed Cup title for the first time in 23 years. In 1988, the Czechoslovak team - included Jana Novotná and Helena Suková - beat the Soviet Union.
In the sport of cyclocross, the reigning world champion Zdeněk Štrybar came in third in the opening round of the World Cup that was held in Plzeň on Saturday. Štybar went ahead right after the start and built up a lead along with Kevin Pauwels from Belgium. However, another Belgian Sven Nys soon caught up with them and powered past Štybar in the final dash to claim victory. The Czech racer was clearly disappointed.
“I knew even before the start that I’m probably not in the condition to win. But I felt better and better in the race so I thought I could do it. Around halfway through, I saw that Sven was not doing so well but he did a great a job and showed all of us how to finish.”
Several racers, including winner Sven Nys, complained about the start of the race when a Czech TV cameraman was standing in their way at the very moment the race began. However, their protests were rejected by the race judges.
And finally, the Czech top hockey division last week saw a controversy between Slavia Prague and the fans of Kometa Brno. In anticipation of large crowds of Kometa supporters, Slavia raised ticket prices for Friday’s game – but Kometa fans declared a boycott of the match, and many of them stayed in Brno. In response to the criticism, Slavia’s marketing manager Antonín Blažek said the raise in price was solely motivated by higher costs; when Kometa fans stop behaving like pigs, Mr Blažek said, Slavia won’t have to up the prices of tickets. In past games between Slavia and Kometa, up to 9,000 fans arrived in Prague to support their team. In the end, it was disappointment for Slavia fans as Kometa eventually annihilated Slavia 9:5.
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