In Sports News this Monday: Czech World Cup hopes fade with draw against Norway – Jarolím accuses players of schoolboy mistakes; Schick reported close to Juve deal; Šafářová lifts women’s doubles title in Paris; and Plíšková remains world number three after missing out on Roland Garros final.
The Czech Republic’s hopes of qualifying for next year’s World Cup in Russia have taken a blow after Karel Jarolím’s men could only manage a 1:1 draw against Norway in Oslo on Saturday. The visitors had taken the lead through Theodor Gebre Selassie but lost it when Norway converted a penalty awarded after a foul by Czech captain Tomáš Sivok.
Speaking to Czech Radio, Sivok said it had been a proverbial game of two halves.
“In the first half we played, passed and held onto the ball well, and the Norwegians didn’t create any chances. But then after the break we messed up every second pass, which put us under tremendous pressure. The Norwegians attacked more and then it was hard to get something out of the game.”
For his part, manager Jarolím was unimpressed by his charges’ performance, which was further punished when group rivals Northern Ireland scored an injury time winner in their game against Azerbaijan.
“Whatever way you look at it, we made schoolboy mistakes. That just shouldn’t happen at the level of the national team. Of course, things have now become more complicated. We lost the lead and the Irish scored in time added on, unfortunately. It’s four points.”
Indeed, Northern Ireland currently have four more points than the Czech Republic with only four rounds to go. One of those games – in Prague in September – is against World Cup holders and group favourites Germany, so it looks like quite a hill to climb for the Czechs.
In some good news for Czech soccer, striker Patrik Schick, who came on as a substitute against Norway, is reported to be close to joining Italian giants Juventus. The rangy 21-year-old scored 11 goals for Sampdoria last term in his first season in Italian football.
Lucie Šafářová picked up her fifth women’s doubles Grand Slam title with Bethanie Mattek-Sands in the Paris Open on Sunday. The Czech and her regular US partner beat the duo of Barty and Delaqua 6-2 6-1 to lift the trophy, and Šafářová said their performance had been a major improvement on their semi-final showing against Hingis and Chan.
“Against Hingis-Chan, who are an excellent team, we played really top tennis against this team today. We were in really good form and we didn’t allow them many chances. When we’re both on our games, that’s how we play. It’s super.”
Šafářová’s compatriot Karolína Plíšková remains third in the women’s rankings. The Czech could have become world number one for the first time if she had reached the final at Roland Garros but was defeated in the semi-finals by Simona Halep of Romania.