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Koller still dashing in a Czech shirt

Published: Thursday 27 March 2008, 18.09CET
Coach Karel Brückner reiterated his faith in 1. FC Nürnberg forward Jan Koller after the Czech Republic totem returned to scoring form away against Denmark.
by Ladislav Josef
from Prague
Koller still dashing in a Czech shirt
Jan Koller scored the Czechs' only goal in Herning ©Getty Images
 
Published: Thursday 27 March 2008, 18.09CET

Koller still dashing in a Czech shirt

Coach Karel Brückner reiterated his faith in 1. FC Nürnberg forward Jan Koller after the Czech Republic totem returned to scoring form away against Denmark.

Coach Karel Brückner reiterated his faith in Jan Koller after the Czech Republic totem returned to scoring form against Denmark.

Drought ends
Koller registered his first international goal since November, and his first strike in eight matches for club or country, in Wednesday's 1-1 draw in Herning. The centre-forward may have endured a barren spell this season but his national-team coach insists: "We know how best to use him."

Perfect service
That much was evident when Koller, who turns 35 on 30 March, rose to head in a Libor Sionko cross in the 42nd-minute against Denmark. "The delivery was perfect so it was easy to nod it in," he said. The former RSC Anderlecht and BV Borussia Dortmund also hopes that his equaliser will herald an improvement in his club fortunes with Bundesliga strugglers 1. FC Nürnberg, whom he joined in January after falling out of favour at AS Monaco FC. "Hopefully the goal will help me when I get back to Nürnberg." So far, he has found the net once in seven league games with his new side.

Under pressure
Nürnberg could certainly do with the star quality that Koller sprinkled on the Czech Republic's last away friendly before UEFA EURO 2008™. Yet with coach Brückner seen gesturing angrily at his team on several occasions, the evening also had its share of frustration for the visitors. "Denmark had us under the cosh in the first half when we couldn't stop them running through midfield."

Tables turned
Making his second start, right-back Michal Kadlec was given a particularly hard ride by Dennis Rommedahl although the performance improved in the second half. "The Danes dropped back after the interval," continued the 68-year-old Brückner, who will leave his post after this summer's championship. "They tired and we were the better team after that. It's just a pity we were unable to finish off several promising situations."

'Useful test'
Brückner included one debutant – 21-year-old midfielder Marek Střeštík made a late appearance – but both he and unused goalkeeper Jan Laštůvka are unlikely to make the finals squad. "It was a useful test against strong opponents," concluded Brückner, whose charges will face Lithuania and Scotland in Prague on 27 and 30 May in their last pre-tournament friendlies, still seeking a first win of 2008.

Last updated: 27/03/08 23.51CET

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