Don't panic, Bilek tells Czechs
12 June 2012, 14:56
Ukraine/Poland - Czech Republic coach Michal Bilek on Monday urged his players not to press the panic button ahead of their Uefa Euro 2012™ Group A meeting with Greece on Tuesday. Live on SS3, SS HD3, Maximo and SuperSport.com
The Czechs were shell-shocked after losing their opening game 4-1 to Russia while the Greeks were grinding out a gutsy 1-1 draw with co-hosts Poland.
And they will be aware that it was the Greeks who dumped them out of Euro 2004 when the Eastern Europeans were expected to swat them aside with ease.
Instead, Greece won the semifinal with a last gasp goal and then beat hosts Portugal for the biggest shock in the history of the tournament.
But Bilek, asked if he would ring the changes, insisted "the 23 players are on form and I haven't decided. Anyway, I shan't tell you who is going to play. But it is not time to panic."
Skipper and Arsenal star Tomas Rosicky admitted that the 2004 loss was "the most painful defeat I have suffered in the national side."
Speaking to the Czech news agency CTK in Wroclaw, Poland, he recalled how a side with the glittering talents of Pavel Nedved, Karel Poborsky and Vladimir Smicer lost out to an extra-time goal from Traianos Dellas - his only goal for the Greeks in 53 games.
"The worst thing was the impossibility of reacting" to the goal as the rules at the time stipulated that no second period of extra-time would be played if a 'silver' goal were scored in the first, hence Dellas' effort was virtually the last kick of the match.
"The bad memories of the Greece game are still there - but this isn't about revenge," said Rosicky, who hit the bar in the 2004 encounter.
The Czechs endured earlier pain with a 1996 final 'golden goal' loss to Germany scored by Oliver Bierhoff, now German team manager.
His country's other survivors from eight years ago are keeper Petr Cech and striker Milan Baros, while Giorgos Karagounis and Kostas Katsouranis are still there for the Greeks.
- Sapa / AFP