Czech mates living the dream
© Foto-net

After booking passage to their first world final as an independent nation with a win over Austria in the Last Four on Wednesday, some of the Czech U-20 players were at a loss for words and struggling to come to terms with what they had accomplished.

"It is just a beautiful thing," said midfielder Jakub Mares who plays his club ball for Usti nad Labem. "When we left home for Canada over a month ago very few people thought we could go far, but here we are now in the Final. It's hard to put into words. This is the best feeling I've had in my career."

Speaking of expectations, Tottenham youth team standout Tomas Pekhart talked to before the finals and had mixed emotions - some doubts mingled with optimism. "I feel we probably won't win the World Cup, but we have a really good team and a number of excellent players," said the striker and only overseas-based player in the squad, before adding: "The favourites are definitely Argentina, the defending champions. But who knows, maybe we can spring a surprise."

Pekhart's words have turned doubly prophetic. After standing up to the favoured Argentines in their first match and grinding out a 0-0 draw that a number of the Czech players called "a great achievement", they will have confidence to spare as they get set to meet the South Americans again in a dream Final.

Like many of his mates Marek Suchy of club side Slavia Prague was at a loss for words. "It still hasn't really sunken in just what we have achieved," he said. "We will have medal for sure and I'm extremely happy about that. I was injured in the preparations for this tournament so for a time I thought I wouldn't even make it to Canada. It's just the most beautiful dream come true."

"It's going to take three or four days for the size and meaning of this win to sink in," added Brno man Ondrej Mazuch. "Nobody expected us to reach the Final it is really a wonderful thing for us."

For midfielder Petr Janda, who received his second yellow of the knockout stages in the semi with the Austrians, a place in the Final is both a dream and a nightmare. Having to miss what would be the biggest game of his life, the Slavia Prague youth player is understandably conflicted. "I couldn't be happier about reaching the Final," he said. "But I can not lie about my sadness at having to watch the game from the bench. It will be hard."

With their dream Final only three days away, the Czechs, a sturdy and largely starless side, will need to pick themselves up and make sure they don't get a rude awakening up against the star-studded Argentines.