Czech Republic v Scotland: Scots to face ‘new players’ as game goes ahead

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Scotland will face a Czech Republic squad made up with “new players and staff members” after both nations and Uefa confirmed the game will go ahead.

The Czechs announced on Friday that Monday’s Nations League game was off after a Covid-19 outbreak.

Tomas Soucek and Patrik Schick were told to self isolate following contact with a backroom staff member who tested positive for the virus.

But the Scots will travel to Olomouc on Sunday as planned.

Chief executive Ian Maxwell said the SFA “were as surprised as Uefa” after Friday’s statement, which came shortly after Scotland’s group opening 1-1 draw with Israel.

“We have received categorical assurance that the match goes ahead,” said Maxwell. “Furthermore, the Czech Republic have confirmed they will be able to fulfil their obligations to the match and, more importantly, to the stringent Covid-19 testing regime that is sacrosanct to ensure the safety of our players and staff.”

And Maxwell told BBC Radio Scotland’s Sportsound: “Until Uefa tells us otherwise, we’re preparing for the game to go ahead. The contact time we will have as a squad in Czech Republic is very limited.

“I’ve not heard from anyone officially at the Czech FA. Uefa spoke to the Czech FA on Saturday morning.”

The Czechs’ plans for Friday’s match in Slovakia, a 3-1 win, were affected after West Ham midfielder Soucek and RB Leipzig striker Schick were told to quarantine and the Czech FA delayed the departure for Bratislava by 24 hours while the entire squad was retested. Players then made the 200-mile journey by road after splitting up into small groups.

After the game, the Czech FA announced the team would not be facing the Scots “due to representatives’ decision and the current situation with the Covid-19”. The statement added: “The national team ends current preparations with the immediate effect straight after the win against Slovakia.”

Uefa stated on Saturday morning Monday’s game would be played as planned and Steve Clarke’s Scotland players held their scheduled training session.

The Czechs later confirmed the match would be played, but added their “team will consist from (sic) new players and staff members”.

Uefa last week outlined principles for scenarios where Covid-19 impacted fixtures, stating that a game would go ahead as long as a team had at least 13 players available, including a goalkeeper.

‘A sad mess’ – analysis

Czech Radio’s Vit Pohanka on BBC Sportsound

It’s a mess, it’s a sad mess. This is happening even though the Czech Republic has got far fewer infections or deaths by Covid-19 per capita than the United Kingdom. The precautions are causing this problem.

None of the players have to this point been infected. The top players cannot play. There will be a Czech national team but the question is who the heck will be in that team?

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