Friday, August 25, 2006

Mlada Boleslav

Not many people really thought the Czech team from the hard-nosed industrial town of Mlada Boleslav (home of the Skoda automobile plant and where Lynda and I lived for awhile back in the mid-1990s; the town not the factory) was going to beat Galatasaray in the third round of the Champions League, especially after the Turkish side dismantled Boleslav 5-2 a couple weeks earlier during the first-leg match. Even the Czech coach, Dusan Uhrin, Jr., seemed to have lost faith when Boleslav conceded the first home goal against Galatasaray on Wednesday in the second-leg. As posted over at the Czech Football Daily blog, the young Czech coach admitted that he'd "stopped believing" when striker Hasan Sas scored in the 73rd minute. The quote from Uhrin simply broke my heart when I read it. It seemed so quintessentially Czech in its wishful optimism and its simultaneous brutal self-defeatism. Did Dusan really think his scrappy club had a chance against the fabled club from Istanbul who was once voted the "Best Football Club in the World" in 2001, and who took the UEFA Cup in 2000 against Arsenal? Yeah, he really did, as did I. Boleslav defender Marian Palat equalized in the 88th, but it was too little too late, as they say, and the Czechs will now have to do their best in the UEFA Cup where they'll meet up with Franck Ribery and the lads from Olympique de Marseille. When I told Lynda this she laughed and said, "Too bad Fabien Barthez left Marseille, Boleslav might have a chance." Ouch! And she likes the eccentric bald-headed keeper.

You can read more about the first round of the UEFA Cup here.

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