Both the nomination and the opponents in the basic group of the international tournament in Baku are known to the Czech national team of small football. The Azerbaijani capital will host the tournament from 1 to 6 May to mark the centenary of the birth of the country’s former president Heydar Aliyev, and coach Stanislav Bejda’s charges will face the home team, Serbia, Georgia and Italy in Group A. Group B will feature Kazakhstan, South Africa, France, Turkey and Ukraine.
There are two goalkeepers and 12 field players in the 14-man squad. The makers of the national team had plenty to choose from, with Hanspaulka Praha, Predátoři Praha and Most each adding three players to the selection.
“There were hardly any excuses, everyone wants to represent, which is positive, they managed to arrange it at work and at the clubs. It’s always a bit tricky because we are still an amateur sport. The whole staff watched the first round of the Superleague in the spring to see the guys we had at the camp in Cesky Dub in action, but also to see if there was anyone else we could call up,” said head coach Bejda.
Together with other members of the implementation team, he chose the strongest possible selection. However, with the World Cup being hosted by the United Arab Emirates from October 26 to November 4, they are also taking the tournament in Baku as preparation.
“It is a good test which serves to ensure that we don’t put the national selection together only on the basis of the Super League of small-sided football. We know how the experienced guys who have already played a few tournaments are doing internationally, how they react to big events. We need to see the younger guys as well, how they are able to handle it,” Bejda explained.
That’s why proven world champions Stanislav Mařík, Jan Koudelka or Ondřej Paděra are missing from the nomination for Azerbaijan.
“We have tested them, we know what to expect from them, we don’t need to see them at such an event. We are interested to see how the guys who look good in the Superleague will stand up in an international confrontation. We have picked three or four experienced, proven players, the rest are new guys who have to prove that they are the right guys, that we have picked them right.
They should bring a revival, a new impetus to the national team. It won’t be the strongest selection at the tournament, because we could be stronger with Padec, Mara, their experience, but again the team could be a bit more predatory. We will see what the players will show on the international field,” the Czech coach pointed out.
Ondřej Bíro, František Hakl and Jiří Sodoma are experienced players in the team. However, most of them are youngsters who have made a name for themselves in the national competition.
“The change of the national team is gradually coming, we are no longer playing with the same team with which we won the World Championship. We want to look for new Koudelka, Marik, Pader, Levčík. The turnover is natural and we try to be fair to everyone, that’s why there are guys in the team who scored in the last rounds of the Superleague and are among the best players in the competition. The boys look good there, but they have to prove it on the international stage,” Bejda reiterated.
The only complete newcomer is Denis Laňka from Most, who scored ten goals and four assists in four Superleague games. The 25-year-old offensive footballer played in the top Czech competition for Příbram and Teplice.
“He has undeniable quality, which he demonstrated in the last Super League round. He isdefinitely a difference player for the offensive line, we need such players, that’s why we put him in the nomination,” explained Bejda.
Czech nomination for the international tournament in Baku::
Goalkeepers: Ondřej Bíro (Most), Ondřej Beran (Partyzan Příbram)
Field players:: Jiří Sodoma, František Hakl, Tomáš Jelínek (all Hanspaulka Praha), Michal Vávra, David Macháček, Milan Šídlo (all Predátoři Praha), Jaromír Frébort, Ondřej Moučka (both Baník Ostrava), Daniel Kasal, Denis Laňka (both Most), Vojtěch Pazdera (Olomouc Mighty Ducks), Jiří Míča (Jihlava Miners)
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