The Czech Paradox: A Disappointing but Near-Qualifying Reprezentace in Euro 2024

We do not yet know if this victory will be enough for his happiness and will contribute to sending the Czech football team to Germany, where the final phase of the European Championship will be held next spring, but since, it seems, it is necessary knowing how to be content with little to live happily, so let’s be satisfied with this narrow success at the expense of the 131st nation in the world (according to the latest ranking established by FIFA).

It was laborious, it was often even painful to watch, but the Reprezentace finally provided the essentials, Sunday evening, by overcoming the Faroe Islands by the narrowest of margins. While we were beginning to seriously doubt their ability to find the fault in an ultra-grouped Faroese defense, a penalty converted by their captain Tomáš Souček at the start of the last quarter of an hour (76th) freed the Czechs from the the immense weight that weighed on their stomachs.

“I knew that if I didn’t convert this penalty with 15 minutes to go, it would get really complicated. This is why I took my responsibilities. I’m the captain and I told myself that I had to assume my status. I think we had a pretty good first half. We had chances, shot twice at the posts, but it didn’t go in. And against this type of very grouped opponent, well organized defensively, the more time passes, the more difficult it becomes. The most important thing is to have strong nerves. It doesn’t matter that we finally scored from the penalty spot. As soon as the referee whistled it, I felt it was up to me to do it to help the team. »

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The Czech Paradox: A Disappointing but Near-Qualifying Reprezentace in Euro 2024

Tomáš Souček |  Photo: Miroslav Chaloupka, CTK

In the end, in addition to preventing the Czechs from sinking a little further into crisis, this penalty converted without trembling by the West Ham midfielder is worth its weight in gold. The draw (1-1) conceded a few hours later by Poland against Moldova in front of their home crowd brought them significantly closer to direct qualification. Before traveling to Warsaw on November 17, then welcoming Moldova three days later in Prague at the end of the elimination phase, the Czech Republic knows that it now only needs three points, and therefore to a single success, or perhaps even only two drawn results, to have the assurance of finishing at worst in second place in their group (E) and thus validate their ticket for the Euro. Most likely in the company of Albania, surprising first with two points ahead of the Czech Republic.

While waiting for these last two decisive deadlines, the question is now who will lead the Reprezentace in November. Highly criticized after the heavy defeat conceded in Tirana last Thursday, which followed the sad draw (1-1) conceded against the same Albania in Prague in September, coach Jaroslav Šilhavý is more threatened than ever and could be called upon to leave the positions he has held for five years now:

“Of course it’s not a pleasant situation to be in, but the decision is not up to me. Coaching the national team is the maximum one can achieve in Czech football. Tonight, first of all, I am relieved that we took all three points. I think we had a very good first half, we just missed a goal to make it happen. In the second half, I saw that the boys weren’t able to do it. Nervousness took over their good will. Fortunately, there was this penalty… Now, we will see what the executive committee decides this week. If he feels that I have nothing left to give to the team and that it is better for me to leave, then I will leave. I am ready to accept it. »

In a press release published on Monday, the Czech Football Federation announced that its executive committee will decide the fate of Jaroslav Šilhavý this Tuesday.