Euro 2012

Cech boost for Czechs

2012-06-14 16:59
Petr Cech (AP)

Wroclaw, Poland  - The Czech Republic were given a confidence boost on Thursday ahead of their decisive Group A match against Poland at Euro 2012 when goalkeeper Petr Cech declared himself fit to play.

Cech said he is satisfied that his condition has improved for Saturday's game and "I should be 100 percent fit for the match. My availability is not threatened."

Cech, who underwent light training at the team's base in Wroclaw, said he plans to resume full training on Friday. He picked up the injury in Tuesday's 2-1 victory over Greece in Group A.

"Tomorrow, I will train normally with no limitations, as I do before any other match."

A win for either team would mean qualification quarter-finals, and Cech's return from injury would clearly improve his side's chances - despite a blunder against Greece.

"I'm really glad, everyone wants to play at the European Championship, you don't want to miss a single minute because every minute is worth it," he said.

Since his international debut more than 10 years ago as a 19-year-old, Cech has become as dominant for the national team as he has been for Chelsea after joining the English Premier League club in June 2004.

His only black mark at the tournament so far was to spill the ball and bump into defender Tomas Sivok, giving Greece substitute Fanis Gekas an easy goal that brought his side back into the match.

Cech acknowledged after the game he was to blame, but insisted on Thursday he had already put the episode behind him.

"I don't think about it," he said. "I don't care about it at the moment. The match is over, we won and that's what we needed. We have to look to the future and that is Saturday."

A rare mistake, but surprisingly not unseen in his international career.

Cech was blamed for the Czechs' exit from Euro 2008 when they squandered a two-goal lead over Turkey in their last group match by conceding three goals in the final 15 minutes.

One of the world's great goalkeepers fumbled a simple cross three minutes before time, allowing Turkey to level for 2-2. Then the Czechs collapsed and conceded another goal.

Cech acknowledged it was his mistake.

A commanding figure in the penalty area, Cech is also a distinctive one with the protective headgear he has been wearing since returning in 2007 from surgery on a fractured skull. Cech sustained the injury after his head collided with the knee of Reading midfielder Stephen Hunt the previous year during a Premier League match.

Cech has said he will wear the headgear for the rest of his career - an illustrious one that has been reaching new heights in 2012.

The 'keeper heads into tournament after first helping Chelsea beat Liverpool in the FA Cup final and then performing heroics in the Champions League final against Bayern Munich.

Cech saved penalties from Arjen Robben in regulation time and Ivica Olic and Bastian Schweinsteiger in the shootout which saw Chelsea lift the trophy for the first time.

Now, he hopes for more success with the national team at Euro 2012.

"To imagine that we'd advance much farther in the tournament is pretty attractive," he said.

Read more on:    euro 2012  |  petr cech  |  soccer


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