Czechs aim to show quality

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The Independent Football

The Czech Republic captain Tomas Ujfalusi is confident his team's class of 2008 have enough quality to make a serious impact at this year's European Championship despite the absence of some key players.

The likes of retired duo Pavel Nedved and Vladimir Smicer and the injured current skipper Tomas Rosicky are not in the squad for this year's competition.

But ahead of the tournament curtain-raiser against co-hosts Switzerland in Basle today, Ujfalusi said that he believes the current breed can make their country proud. "In 2004, we played football of the highest level but we didn't make it to the final," said the rugged centre-back, who was part of the Czech team which lost 1-0 to the eventual winners Greece in the semi-final four years ago.

"Some people have finished playing since then, great players. It was difficult for the coach to find adequate replacements but we coped. I guess we will only be able to assess this when the Championships are over. We will see."

The Czechs are considered dark horses this time round and are expected to be battling it out with the Swiss and Greece for second place in Group A, behind Portugal.

Karel Bruckner, whose six-and-a-half-year tenure as Czech coach will come to an end after the tournament, will be without Zdenek Pospech (flu) against Switzerland.

The Swiss Football Association has prepared a contingency plan in the unlikely event the head coach Köbi Kuhn is forced to quit the team. The 64-year-old has been visiting his wife in hospital daily since she suffered a serious epileptic fit on Monday.