Czech coach confident

DEREK VAN DIEST, EDMONTON SUN

, Last Updated: 8:35 AM ET

The Czech Republic has been here before.

This time around though, they'll play a full game in their quarter-final encounter tonight against Spain (5:45 p.m.) at Commonwealth Stadium.

"We think we can win this game," said Czech head coach Miroslav Soukup through an interpreter yesterday.

"We have put a lot of strength into it, but I think we can surprise and everybody is confident we can surprise."

The Czech have already pulled a rabbit out of the hat in their second-round victory over Japan.

Losing 2-0 they were awarded a pair of penalty kicks within a three minute span in the second half. Then after a scoreless extra-time session, the Czechs won the game in a penalty shootout with Tomas Oklestek scoring the winning goal.

Interestingly enough, Oklestek was injured in the ensuing celebration and may not be able to play tonight.

"At the beginning of the championship, I put Spain definitely through to the semifinals," Soukup said.

"We know the Spanish team has five or six players moving on the field at any time and they are very creative and able to attack the goal at any time."

Prior to the FIFA Under-20 World Cup the Czech Republic came to Edmonton to play an exhibition game against Canada at Commonwealth Stadium. That particular contest was called off early in the second half when a storm blew through.

There won't be a storm cloud in sight for tonight's game as the forecast calls for another hot day.

"For all of us this is a historic moment," Soukup said. "We know soccer fans are paying quite a bit of attention because the team is advancing.

"More and more people are watching the games, so there is a lot of excitement back home."


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