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Čech vow as Czech Republic welcome Montenegro

Published: Thursday 10 November 2011, 19.31CET
Despite a broken nose, Petr Čech is determined to start for the Czech Republic in Friday's play-off first leg against a Montenegro side who want a score draw from their biggest fixture.
by Ladislav Josef & Aleksandar Radović
from Prague
Čech vow as Czech Republic welcome Montenegro
Petr Čech trains in his special mask ©Getty Images

Tournament statistics

Czech RepublicMontenegro

Goals scored15
 
7
Total attempts121
 
95
Attempts on target47
 
27
Attempts off target54
 
59
Attempts blocked0
 
0
Attempts against woodwork1
 
1
Corners64
 
44
Offsides21
 
22
Yellow cards16
 
35
Red Cards2
 
0
Fouls committed129
 
199
Fouls suffered145
 
135
 
Published: Thursday 10 November 2011, 19.31CET

Čech vow as Czech Republic welcome Montenegro

Despite a broken nose, Petr Čech is determined to start for the Czech Republic in Friday's play-off first leg against a Montenegro side who want a score draw from their biggest fixture.

Petr Čech's new face mask, in addition to his customary headgear, should shore him up to feature in the Czech Republic's UEFA EURO 2012 play-off first leg at home to Montenegro.

I am not nervous about the injury. I have 70 stitches in my head already, so I am used to it
Petr Čech
We feel this is a special moment for us, for the whole nation, and we are ready to put everything we have into these 180 minutes
Milan Jovanović

Čech suffered a broken nose in Chelsea FC's meeting with Blackburn Rovers FC last Saturday. However, having missed just three competitive matches for his country in four years, he is determined to be on the pitch in Prague as the Czechs look to avoid missing out on a UEFA European Championship for the first time since the 1993 split with Slovakia.

"I would not play if I was anything less than 90% as the game is a very important one," said the 29-year-old, who has been capped 86 times. "I am not nervous about the injury. I have 70 stitches in my head already, so I am used to it."

Defensive midfielder Tomáš Hübschman is suspended for both legs and centre-back Roman Hubník is banned on Friday, while striker Milan Baroš is a doubt having been out for almost three weeks with a calf injury.

His nation have never had to enter a EURO play-off before, but captain Tomáš Rosický – who was involved when the Czech Republic were beaten to the 2002 FIFA World Cup over two legs by Belgium but qualified at Norway's expense four years later – knows what to expect. "It is totally different from the group stage," Rosický said. "Discipline and team spirit will count for more than just skills."

In contrast to the Czech record, Montenegro are yet to reach a major tournament since independence in 2006 but having drawn twice with England to get to these play-offs, they are targeting an away draw ahead of Tuesday's home return in Podgorica. Midfielder Milorad Peković said: "It would be difficult for us if we lost, because the Czechs are brilliant when they defend. If they come to Montenegro with an advantage, we would have a mountain to climb."

With defenders Miodrag Džudović and Marko Baša and midfielder Nikola Drinčić back from injury, Montenegro are at full strength. "I am sure we will have a lot of space up front," Peković added. "We have quick players, very good technicians like Mirko Vučinić and Stevan Jovetić. We will have a chance to score, I am sure we can do it at least once."

However, while Montenegro began qualifying with four clean sheets, in the second half of the campaign they conceded seven. "We had a lot of injuries in defence for the last four matches," goalkeeper Mladen Božović said. "Now it is different and I hope we will be strong at the back."

Defender Milan Jovanović added: "We will not make the mistake of playing not to concede, but everything will be built from the back. We must defend well and wait for a chance to counterattack. The first leg is not decisive, but it is very important. We must try to score. We feel this is a special moment for us, for the whole nation, and we are ready to put everything we have into these 180 minutes."

Last updated: 11/11/11 10.02CET

http://www.uefa.com/uefaeuro/news/newsid=1715088.html#cech+montenegro

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