Karel Brückner said it was "not yet time to celebrate" despite a 1-0 win against the Republic of Ireland which edged the Czech Republic closer to UEFA EURO 2008™.
Marek Jankulovski's 15th-minute goal decided the tie at the Sparta Stadium in Prague and left Brückner's side six points ahead of the third-placed Republic of Ireland in Group D with three games to play. However, the coach was not about to say his side had all but reached next summer's finals, saying: "It is not yet time to celebrate but we have our destiny in our own hands."
The Czechs had come in for criticism at home after a 3-0 away win in San Marino in their previous qualifier, but Brückner felt they proved their class last night. "It was not an easy game against strong opponents, but the players showed big hearts and great determination today," he said. "They managed it even without [Jan] Koller and proved they have not only one style of play."
The home side were good value for their half-time lead, with the coach singling out attacking midfielder Libor Sionko for special praise, but were grateful for the dismissal of Stephen Hunt just after the hour as the visitors rallied after the break. "We cannot play at such a high tempo for the whole game," explained Brückner. "We also had to change our play after Tomáš Galásek's injury."
The coach's only real regrets were the yellow cards which will see Jan Polák and Jankulovski suspended for their next qualifier at section leaders Germany, who are two points ahead, in Munich on 17 October. Jankulovski nonetheless enjoyed the win, saying: "We responded to the criticism after the San Marino game and we proved that we are able to play well and at full pace," he said. "We need only one win now [to qualify] and I am sure we will get it."
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