N.Ireland and Czechs bow out

PRAGUE - Czech Republic's World Cup qualifying campaign ended in bitter disappointment after a 0-0 draw with Northern Ireland on Wednesday.

The home team's chances of finishing in the top two in Group Three were extinguished by first-placed Slovakia's 1-0 win in Poland and second-placed Slovenia's 3-0 victory over San Marino.

Ivan Hasek confirmed he was stepping down as coach after his Czech side ended in third spot.

"Yes, it was (my last game)," said the 46-year-old who announced when he took over in July he would only take charge until the end of the qualifying campaign.

Hasek will now concentrate on his role as chairman of the Czech football association.

AC Milan defender Marek Jankulovski also said he was quitting international football after winning 78 caps.

"This was my last game," said the 32-year-old Czech. "It's been a wonderful 10 years."

The Czechs, group favourites at the start of qualifying, pressed forward early in Wednesday's game but the Irish created the first real chance when keeper Petr Cech saved a flick from Niall McGinn.

Both teams had several opportunities in the second period and Jankulovski forced a good stop from Maik Taylor with five minutes to go.

The Irish finished fourth in the group.