Czech Republic coach Tomáš Neumann admitted his team made "too many mistakes" as the UEFA European Futsal Championship finalists finished second behind Poland in the annual Hodonin tournament.
The hosts had won the senior section of the event for the last three years, but this time Poland – who topped the inaugural table in 2003 – were triumphant thanks to a final-day 2-1 win against a below-strength Czech Republic after both teams had defeated Slovakia. It continued a disappointing run for the Czech Republic since qualifying for the European finals, with 4-1 and 6-0 losses in Portugal in April and a 5-3 reverse in Slovakia the following month.
Key men recalled
Neumann was able to call on a full squad for the first time since February's qualifiers, including brother Roman and Michal Mareš, the key Czech futsal players of the last decade, plus recent football professionals Marek Kopecký and Petr Vladyka. However, all four were only fielded against Slovakia on Friday to leave them well rested for FK Era-Pack Chrudim's forthcoming UEFA Futsal Cup Elite round mini-tournament. SFC Opava footballer Tomáš Sluka was also released by the second division team for this tournament and the EURO finals from 16-25 November.
Both Mareš brothers played a crucial role in the 4-3 win against Slovakia, most notably Michal scoring twice in the final eight minutes to turn a game his side were trailing 3-2. Roman Mareš and David Frič had ensured the Czech Republic a two-goal advantage in the first half but Peter Hal'ko equalised just before the break and Voitech Varady and Marek Habaj gave Slovakia a short-lived lead.
Poland defeated Slovakia 3-1 to leave the home side needing a final-day victory to retain the trophy. But the score was 0-0 with two minutes to do and then Mariusz Lewandowski struck twice and Paweł Dąbrowski added another to put the game beyond the Czech Republic, who secured a late consolation by Martin Dlouhý. There was consolation for the hosts in the parallel Under-21 competition, in which they defeated Slovakia 4-3 and Poland 6-2.
Neumann, whose team meet Malta and former Czech national coach Michal Striz on 26 and 28 October before facing Romania, hosts Portugal and Italy in the group stage in Porto, said: "We met up for the first time with these players and we were not able to practice for all eventualities, so we made too many mistakes. We conceded several goals following dead-ball situations, it's our weak point. However I will rely on this squad for Portugal."
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