WORLD CUP : Team profile – CZEch republic (group e)
After two 1-0 play-off wins over Norway, Karel Bruckner’s team booked their place at Germany 2006 — the first time that this relatively new country, Czech Republic, will be taking part in the biggest sporting event.
In European qualifying Group 1, their haul of 27 points was good only for second place behind The Netherlands, and put them a mere two points ahead of Romania, on 25. Another play-off lay-in wait for the Czechs if they were to secure their FIFA World Cup berth.
This awakened unhappy memories of 2001, when they failed to qualify after losing under similar circumstances to Belgiuma for 2002 World Cup. This time, it was a different story. Bruckner’s men set about their task with determination and outplayed the Norwegians both home and away.
Their refreshing brand of attacking football saw them finish top scorers of the European qualifying phase, with Jan Koller second highest scorer overall on nine goals. Alongside old warhorses such as Koller, Pavel Nedved and Karel Poborsky, a new generation of top-class players has been evolving. Milan Baros, Tomas Rosicky and goalkeeping star Petr Cech all added fine performances in the World Cup qualifying campaign to a successful showing in Portugal, surpassing the already high expectations in them.
With this fine blend of youth and experience, the Czech Republic must aim high for their first World Cup participation.
WC participations: 8 (1934, 1938, 1954, 1958, 1962, 1970, 1982, 1990 as
WC honours: World Cup runners- up (1934, 1962 as Czechoslovakia)
European champions (1976 as