In Sports News this Monday: Šmicer returns to Slavia as assistant boss; bottom of table tie between Ostrava and Bohemians 1905 ends 0:0; Czechs take only three players to Japan for Davis Cup; Berdych back to fifth after good run in Miami; Dominator Hašek inducted into Buffalo Hall of Fame.
Vladimír Šmicer is returning to Slavia Prague, the soccer club where he started and ended a successful playing career. Šmicer, whose last job was as general manager to the Czech national team, goes back to Slavia as assistant to the club’s Dutch manager Alex Pastoor. Šmicer won the league three times with Slavia as a player, most recently in 2009. However, since then the club has fallen off the pace, finishing seventh last season and currently languishing fourth from bottom. Šmicer says one of his main tasks will be to help improve the mentality of the current Slavia squad.
“The players have to enjoy football. They have to have an appetite for it, whether they’re playing a weak team or a strong team. It’s not work, it’s a game, and if they don’t enjoy it performances will reflect that. We want to get back to such basic things and, starting there, soon head back to the top.”
Slavia’s old rivals Sparta lead the league by eight points. They made light work of Znojmo in the capital at the weekend, winning 3:0. For their part, second-placed Viktoria Plzeň walloped Liberec 6:0.
At the other end of the table, Baník Ostrava remain rooted to bottom spot after a 0:0 away draw at fellow strugglers Bohemians 1905, who are only ahead of them on goal difference. Both clubs are two points behind third from bottom Olomouc. Ostrava boss František Komňacký was left frustrated by the result.
“We wanted to win and to be successful, because we knew it was one of the key games of the second half of the season. But given that we weren’t capable of scoring one goal in the whole game, we have to accept the draw. Bohemians were dangerous but the result shows that neither team currently has sufficient strength or quality up front.”
The Czech Davis Cup team to face Japan in the tennis competition’s quarter-finals next weekend will, unusually, feature only three players. Lukáš Rosol, Radek Štěpánek and Jiří Veselý have arrived in Tokyo without Jan Hájek, who has had to pull out due to a knee injury.
Tomáš Berdych helped the Czechs win the Davis Cup title last year and the year before but has decided to focus on his own career for now. Berdych has just returned to fifth in the world rankings after reaching the semi-finals of the Miami Masters, where he withdrew in a match against Rafael Nadal due to a tummy bug.
Retired Czech ice hockey goaltender Dominik Hašek has just been inducted into the Hall of Fame of former club Buffalo Sabres. The Dominator was with the club from 1992 to 2001, a period when he dominated the NHL. Hašek earned six Vezina trophies in a 16-season career in the league, was also a six-time NHL All-Star and twice received the Hart Trophy.