Czechs still haunted by Euro 2004 Greece defeat

Eight year later, the Czech Republic is still haunted by the

Silver Goal scored by Greece in the 2004 semifinals.

Czech Republic captain Tomas Rosicky, one of three players at

this year’s European Championship who was in the 2004 squad, has

called it the most bitter moment of his international career.

”It was the most painful loss for me with the national team,”

said Rosicky, who has made 86 international appearances since 2000.

”We had no chance to come back.”

In 2004, the eventual champion Greeks scored seconds from the

end of the first 15 minutes of extra time, sending the team through

to the final and forcing the Czechs to head home.

After losing to Russia 4-1 on Friday at Euro 2012, the Czechs

need a win over Greece on Tuesday at the Municipal Stadium in

Wroclaw to have a chance of advancing from Group A.

”We have no other option than to beat Greece,” said Czech

Republic goalkeeper Petr Cech, another veteran of the 2004

team.

That may not be an easy task. The 2004 European champions, who

drew 1-1 with Poland in their opener, remain reliant on a solid

defense, conceding only five goals in qualifying and not a single

one in the previous three goalless draws in regulation against the

Czech Republic.

Goalkeeper Michalis Sifakis indicated that Greece would go on

the attack in its next game as it bids for a place in the

quarterfinals.

”We’ve studied our opponents,” Sifakis said. ”We look at the

opener as losing two points as much as earning one. We are now

chasing a win on Tuesday.”

Neither team is considered to be a title contender in Poland and

Ukraine.

The Czechs are rebuilding after the retirement of several

long-serving internationals, including all-time leading scorer Jan

Koller, Pavel Nedved and Karel Poborsky. And Czech Republic coach

Michal Bilek has little time to fix his porous back line after

Russia’s mobile forwards tore it apart.

But at least, Bilek has two of his major stars, striker Milan

Baros and Rosicky, fit and ready after recovering from

injuries.

The Greeks, already missing two key defenders, were hit by

another setback on Sunday when Giorgos Fotakis pulled out of

training with a right thigh injury.

Sokratis Papastathopoulos is suspended and Avraam Papadopoulos

is out for the rest of the tournament with a left knee injury.