Sheffield Wednesday: It's win or bust for the Czechs, reckons Daniel Pudil
Left-back Daniel Pudil admits the Czech Republic must beat Norway tonight to keep their slender hopes of qualifying for the World Cup alive.
The Czechs are fifth in Group C after collecting a meagre two points from three outings.
After being held to a goalless draw by Northern Ireland, the Czechs were brushed aside by Germany thanks to goals by Thomas Müller (2) and Toni Kroos.
And they trail group leaders Germans by seven points following a home draw with Azerbaijan last month.
The Czechs welcome Norway to the The Eden Arena, Prague, this evening, kick-off 7:45pm, before going head-to-head with Denmark in a friendly next Tuesday.
“Norway is an important game for us,” Owls defender Pudil told The Star. “We have just two points from three games so this is probably the last chance for the team to lift themselves up.
“We have to win it and we know that. We are under a little bit of pressure.
“Hopefully we win the game and keep the belief going for the rest of the qualifying campaign.”
The 31-year-old, who represented his country at last summer’s European Championships, was not involved in the Czech’s recent double-header due to a troublesome thigh injury. Pudil was instructed to take a complete rest from football and spent several days in Spain with his partner and two children.
He looked sharp and refreshed when he returned to action, putting in a solid display in Wednesday’s impressive victory at Huddersfield Town before grabbing a vital goal in their hard-earned draw at Cardiff City.
His improved form prompted the national team to recall him. He flew out to Prague to join up with the rest of the squad following the Owls’ defeat to Ipswich Town last Saturday.
Pudil said: “I’m looking forward to the two games. I’m happy to be back in the squad as I couldn’t be in the last one as I was injured.
“We have one qualifier and one friendly so we will see if I play in those games.”
It is not just the Czechs who are under pressure to halt their poor sequence of results.
Wednesday have dropped to 10th in the Championship standings following back-to-back losses. Head coach Carlos Carvalhal criticised his players performance versus Ipswich, claiming they lacked “energy” and were a shadow of the team who lit up the division last season en route to the Play-Off Final.
Pudil says his teammates must “stick together” and look to respond in a positive fashion after the two-week international break.
“We have to move on,” he stressed. “We know this league is really tough and everyone can beat everyone.
“We have lost two games but we know when we comeback from the international games we have Fulham and Wolves away from home so hopefully we can pick up points from those games and lift ourselves up the league.”