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Czech coach wants post-Portugal party

The Czech Republic players chanted Michal Bílek's name after reaching the quarter-finals, and he told UEFA.com he is hoping for a repeat following Thursday's tie with Portugal.

Michal Bílek is popular with his players after leading them to the last eight
Michal Bílek is popular with his players after leading them to the last eight ©Sportsfile

Heavily criticised at home following his team's 4-1 opening-day defeat against Russia, Czech Republic coach Michal Bílek was touched by the scenes of jubilation at the Municipal Stadium Wroclaw after his side clinched a quarter-finals place. The 47-year-old heard his name chanted by his squad in the dressing room, and is confident similar celebrations will take place after Thursday's meeting with Portugal in Warsaw.

UEFA.com: Congratulations on reaching the last eight. How big a success this is?

Michal Bílek: After the first match, a lot of people wrote us off thinking that we wouldn't qualify. We've managed to do it, we've improved admirably and won two matches, so there's an overriding feeling of total satisfaction.

The match against Poland was very difficult because we were playing against a side receiving an enormous amount of support from their fans, but we handled the match well and we won. The last few minutes were very hard, because our opponents had a chance to score, but we managed to head the ball away from the open goal. After the match, our emotions took hold and we felt huge satisfaction, and when I saw the players celebrating and jumping on each other, and the fans' enthusiasm... well, that's why I am involved in football.

UEFA.com: The players chanted your name. Was it a good to feel their support after the negative reaction from back at home?

Bílek: We offer each other mutual support and that's why we stick together. We've gone through because we work as a team. It was definitely a pleasant feeling to hear the players chanting my name. We've qualified and we're all pulling in the same direction.

UEFA.com: A new generation of Czech players has replaced come to prominence at UEFA EURO 2012. How are they getting on?

Bílek: They've adapted very well, because this situation was not easy. Some players came into the team not long before the tournament, such as David Limberský, Václav Pilař and Petr Jiráček, and they've all performed really well and with great confidence. Every match gives a lot to the players professionally, because they can test their skills and performance against other teams comprised of excellent players.

UEFA.com: The quarter-final will be your first game away from Wroclaw. What kind of influence will the change of stadium have?

Bílek: It was a big advantage for us that we played near the Czech border as so many fans came to support us. It was also an advantage that we played all three matches in the same stadium. It is true we are going to move, but I don't think there will be a problem. We will play in Warsaw now, in a beautiful stadium and against excellent opponents, who played very well in their last match. I am looking forward to it.

UEFA.com: What do you make of Portugal?

Bílek: They played well against the Dutch. They have stunning individuals. They like to have space so they can use their speed and players like Nani and Cristiano Ronaldo. They are world-famous players, so we expect a very interesting, difficult match, but I believe that we will enjoy it, deal with it and go through. We have to try and keep their most important players in check, such as Ronaldo. He has an accurate and very powerful shot. He tries to score constantly, which is why he is one of the best goalscorers in the world. We have to play with the same quality we've shown in recent matches.

UEFA.com: You scored two goals against Portugal in a FIFA World Cup qualifier in Prague in 1989. What do you remember about it?

Bílek: The year 1989 was one of the most important of my footballing career. I remember Portugal very well, because we played them at home and we put everything into it. We knew that we had to win and ten minutes before the end it was still 1-1, but I scored in the 83rd minute and we won. I had scored a penalty previously, so I scored two goals in such an important match. I like to remember that game, as well as that year, so I have the best memories of Portugal and I believe that the same thing will happen in our coming match.