Straka selected new Czech Republic soccer coach
PRAGUE (AP) -Frantisek Straka was selected as the Czech Republic's new soccer coach on Tuesday, replacing Petr Rada, who was fired last month because of poor results in World Cup qualifying.
The Czech soccer federation's decision to appoint the 50-year-old Straka was a surprise after its committee had recommended rehiring Dusan Uhrin, who led the team to the final of the 1996 European Championship.
Details were expected to be announced at a news conference later Tuesday.
Straka, a former Czech international who played 35 games for his country, had previously coached Sparta Prague, Ceske Budejovice, Teplice and Plzen, as well as Austrian club Tirol Innsbruck.
"It's a dream come true but it's not about me,'' Straka told the CTK news agency. "What is of importance is to get the national team out of the difficult situation in qualifying. I can promise that I will do all I can.''
The Czechs are fourth in their World Cup qualifying group with eight points from six games, five behind leader Northern Ireland.
Only the group winners qualify directly for next year's tournament in South Africa, while the best eight runners-up in the nine groups advance to the playoffs.
Rada was fired on April 8, a week after the team lost 2-1 to Slovakia in a qualifier in Prague.
Straka's first game in charge will be a home exhibition against Malta in Jablonec on June 5. The Czechs will resume their qualifying campaign at Slovakia on Sept. 5.