Michal Bilek takes over as Czech coach

Michal Bilek has been appointed as the new coach of the Czech Republic national team.

The former Sparta Prague coach replaces Ivan Hasek, who resigned last week after failing to qualify the Czech Republic for the 2010 World Cup in South Africa.

Hasek, who is also chairman of the Czech football federation, had Bilek as an assistant during his time in the post and favored the 44-year-old as his successor.

Hasek said Bilek was the only candidate and was approved unanimously by the federation’s executive committee Tuesday.

“He’s a person who wants to keep winning and who’s proud of the national jersey,” Hasek said.

Hasek took over as Czech Republic coach in July when the team was struggling in World Cup qualifying. It was fourth in Group 3, with just eight points from six games.

The team improved under Hasek but it still missed out on qualification for the World Cup, finishing third in the group behind Slovakia and Slovenia.

“(Bilek’s) main goal is to qualify for the 2012 European Championship,” Hasek said.

He added that Bilek’s contract runs through until the 2012 tournament in Poland and Ukraine. If the team qualifies, the federation will have an option to extend the deal by two years.

“We have a number of very good players but it’s necessary to rejuvenate the team with young ones,” Bilek said.

The Czechs are scheduled to play two matches at a Nov. 15-18 tournament in Dubai, where the United Arab Emirates, Azerbaijan and Iraq should also participate. The Czech team has also offered to travel to Argentina for a Dec 16 friendly.

Besides Sparta, Bilek has coached provincial Czech clubs Teplice, Blsany and Plzen, Slovakian team Ruzomberok and at CS Cartagines in Costa Rica.

He played 35 times for Czechoslovakia and the Czech Republic between 1987-1995, scoring 11 goals.