DECLAN WARRINGTON / AIPS** in OLOMOUC: Tomas Ujfalusi is still a believer in the Czech Republic’s ability to reach the semi-finals of ‘their’ UEFA Euro 21 tournament despite the depressing opening defeat by Denmark.
The hosts took the lead against the Danes only to lose 2-1 and need victory in Prague over Serbia to both resurrect their campaign and vindicate the loyalty of home fans.
A new young version of Ujfalusi would be invaluable. He made 78 senior resolute appearances in defence for the Czechs, played in World Cup and European Championship and won trophies and titles in a club Odyssey to Hamburg, Fiorentina, Atletico Madrid and Galatasaray.
Ujfalusi saw the Czechs fall apart against Denmark in Prague but also sees reasons for hope.
He said: “In the first half we played well but in the second 45 minutes we didn’t play well at all. Then Denmark started to play and they have a good team.
“We have to hope to win our second game. It’s not going to be easy but we will have Vaclav Kadlec and Tomas Kalas back so that will help.”
The Eintracht Frankfurt striker and Chelsea midfielder were suspended from the opening match after being sent off in a youth qualifying tie against Russia almost three years ago.
Kalas, like Ujfalusi, started his career with Sigma of Olomouc, one of the other host cities for the current tournament. He rates the returning pair highly as well as defender Pavel Kaderabek, who scored the Czechs’ goal against Denmark.
Their final group game is next Wednesday against Germany, probably the original tournament favourites but who were held 1-1 by the Serbs in the other first-day tie in Group A.
** AIPS is the international sports journalists’ association with 10,000 members worldwide and is co-operating with UEFA in running a Young Reporters course in the Czech Republic. More information: www.AIPSmedia.com
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