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Czechs eye fifth straight Euro appearance
Published : 14 Nov 2011 01:16:49Rss feed
The Czech Republic will be looking to confirm what would be a fifth consecutive European Championships appearance when they take a 2-0 first leg lead to Euro 2012 playoff rivals Montenegro on Tuesday.
Goals from Vaclav Pilar and Tomas Sivok in Friday's 2-0 win in Prague put the 1996 runners-up and 2004 bronze medalists firmly in contention to seal entry to the co-hosted event in Poland and Ukraine next summer.
National coach Michal Bilek was quick to praise his players' stylish win, but he believes scoring goals will be crucial in a cauldron-like atmosphere that team skipper Tomas Rosicky predicted could be "a bit of hell".
Admitting they were "only at the halfway stage", Bilek added: "We're in for a terribly difficult game in Montenegro because they always gain a big advantage at home, their fans are loud.
"It's clear that to have things in our hands, we have to score in the second leg too."
The Czechs will be without suspended midfielder Tomas Hubschman, although defender Roman Hubnik is eligible to play after serving his suspension.
And Arsenal midfielder Rosicky has overcome an instep injury from the first leg, in which he assisted both Czech scorers and orchestrated the side's offensive campaign.
"We can't get carried away. The game in Montenegro will be completely different, it will be a bit of hell," warned Rosicky.
"The second leg will be tougher than the first."
Montenegro, UEFA's youngest member since joining in 2006 following independence from Serbia, will be backed by a frantic crowd in the capital Podgorica.
Euro 2012 would be their first major tournament, and despite failing to spark in freezing Prague they have retained their confidence and spirit to the extent that coach Branko Brnovic believes they will qualify after a 3-0 home win.
"Perhaps I'm not normal, but I feel we still have a chance," said Brnovic, who will miss suspended defender Milan Jovanovic.
"I expect a different game, a different team in terms of performance. We'll play a thousand percent better, the atmosphere will be stormy and I believe we'll have a chance to turn things in our favour.
"I believe we'll beat the Czechs 3-0."
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