Straka named Czech Republic coach

PRAGUE - Former international defender Frantisek Straka has been appointed coach of Czech Republic, the Football Association (FA) said in a statement on Tuesday. The 50-year-old Czech replaces Petr Rada, who was sacked last month following poor displays in World Cup qualifying matches against Slovakia and Slovenia. "It is a dream fulfilled but I am not the main issue at the moment," Straka told the CTK news agency after narrowly beating Dusan Uhrin, who led the team to the final of Euro 96 where they were beaten by Germany, in an FA committee vote. "I'd like the team to get out of the difficult situation that has arisen (in the World Cup)." The Czechs are fourth in Group Three, five points behind leaders Northern Ireland but with a game in hand. Straka's side have four qualifiers left, starting with a trip to Slovakia on September 5. His first game in charge will be a friendly against Malta on June 5. The Czech FA expelled six players for a breach of discipline after losing their home World Cup qualifier against Slovakia 2-1 last month, the first defeat by their neighbours since 1997. Straka, who won 35 caps between 1983 and 1990, played most of his career with Sparta Prague but also spent three years at Borussia Moenchengladbach. He was briefly coach of Sparta in 2004 and his last job was with OFI Crete, the club he left in November. Straka will be formally introduced as Czech Republic's coach at a news conference on Wednesday.