Since separating from Slovakia in January 1993, Czech Republic have contested FIFA World Cup™ qualifying on four occasions. They proved unable to book a spot at France 1998, Korea/Japan 2002 and South Africa 2010, but did make it through to the 2006 finals in neighbouring Germany. Czechoslovakia, on the other hand, made eight appearances at the global showdown between 1930 and 1994.
FIFA World Cup finals history
Czech Republic arrived in Germany for the 2006 FIFA World Cup as many experts’ outside bet for success, but their performances fell way short of expectations. It all started promisingly with an opening 3-0 win over USA, but consecutive 2-0 defeats to Ghana and Italy meant the team packed for home after the group phase. Czechoslovakia twice finished runners-up at the tournament, losing the 1934 final 2-1 after extra time to hosts Italy, and falling 3-1 to Brazil in the final at Chile 1962.
The current crop
The Czechs are regrouping at present, determined to emerge from a below-par period by rebuilding team spirit and focusing their energies on the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil. National coach Michal Bilek is likely to lean heavily on the best of the team which finished second at the FIFA U-20 World Cup 2007 in Canada. However, the new crop will require time to mature, before potentially going on to emulate the star ensemble which came a very close second at UEFA EURO 1996 in England.
The key players
The standout player in the current Czech national team is world-class goalkeeper Petr Cech. A heavy burden of responsibility also rests on the shoulders of playmaker Tomas Rosicky, equipped with the skill and vision to make the difference in a tight game. Up front, Milan Baros is a proven goalscorer at every level, with a wealth of experience to match.
Coach: Michal Bilek
Best performances in a FIFA competition: FIFA World Cup Italy 1934, Chile 1962 (Runners-up), FIFA U-20 World Cup Canada 2007 (Runners-up), FIFA Confederations Cup Saudi Arabia 1997 (Third place), Men's Olympic Football Tournament Moscow 1980 (Winners)
Former stars: Josef Masopust, Karel Poborsky, Pavel Nedved