Belfast Telegraph

Northern Ireland result gives us food for thought after England high: Czech boss

High five: Czech Republic’s Vladimir Darida celebrates his goal with Alex Kral
High five: Czech Republic’s Vladimir Darida celebrates his goal with Alex Kral
Jaroslav Silhavy

By Paul Ferguson

Shocked boss Jaroslav Silhavy believes Northern Ireland may have taken some of the gloss off the Czech Republic's stunning win over England.

The Czechs came into the friendly with Northern Ireland at the Generali Arena buoyant after surprising Gareth Southgate's men with a 2-1 win last Friday night in Prague.

It was the Czech's biggest result for years as since the likes of Karel Poborsky, Pavel Nedved, Milan Baros and Patrik Berger retired, they have struggled to be a force in European football.

But Northern Ireland brought the Czechs down to earth with an almighty bump with a 3-2 win.

Silhavy admitted: "I was disappointed a little bit because this devalues the great performance we had against England, but I wasn't disappointed in the players' attitude necessarily.

"They did run and fight but they just lacked a little bit of courage and movement."

Silhavy made 10 changes for the clash and Northern Ireland took full advantage by surging into a 3-0 half-time lead and then after the Czechs had made six significant substitutes, the men in green dug deep to hold on for an excellent victory.

The Czech coach admitted he had some harsh words at the interval.

He said: "That for sure was the case but this was a friendly match, we knew we had six substitutes available and we made some changes.

"And these changes proved to be good. In the first half we did not play well and we do not want to play like that in the future.

"But it was good from the point of view of getting info we can use in the future matches."

The Czechs currently lie second in Group A, behind England, in Euro 2020 qualifying.

They are in an automatic position to reach the finals next year - which is good news for Northern Ireland's hopes of claiming a play-off place as the Czechs are ahead of them in that particular race, and therefore automatic qualification would take them out of the running.

But the Czechs face a tough home encounter against third-placed Kosovo next month and that game could ultimately decide their fate in this campaign.

Silhavy added: "Of course we are always unhappy when we lose at home, but as I've said this game was informative for us. As for Kosovo, that's not something we have under control.

"We would be glad if they made a mistake and made it easier for us but nobody expected us to beat England so they will still be one point behind us."

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