Zbrojovka starts its second-league season against Jihlava on Sunday at 6 p.m. Photo credit: FC Zbrojovka Brno.

Brno, July 18 (BD) — Draci take on Hroši in the Czech Baseball Cup, the baseball extraliga restarts, and the Brno sports schedule.

MEN’S FOOTBALL

Zbrojovka Begins Fight To Return To Top League

There is one goal for FC Zbrojovka Brno this season: Return to the top league.

After a disappointing last-place finish in the Het Liga in May, the top team from the second largest city of the country was relegated to the second league, the Forunta narodni liga. Zbrojovka’s first game is Sunday at 6 p.m. when FC Vysočina Jihlava, the team that finished in the next-to-last spot of the top league last season, comes to Srbska Stadium.

A win could go a long way toward the goal of returning to the top league. As the owner of the club, Václav Bartoněk, said during the offseason: “The goal is one single season in the second league.”

Bartoněk decided to keep Roman Pivarník as the head coach. Pivarník was the third head coach for the team during the tumultuous 2017-18 season and consistency may be the right move. Tomáš Požár came on board as the sports manager after the season.

Many of the faces on the field are the same.

Dušan Melichárek returns in goal. He was the captain for most of last season and helped the team deal with relegation with a sense of pride in front of its fans. Petr Pavlík, the tough defensive stopper, is back. Francisco Gomes, who made an impact when he arrived in the fall, has returned from injury and should be a solid foundation for the defense. Milan Lutonsky is a longtime mainstay of the team.

Musefiu Ashiru, small and fast, and Michal Skoda, tall and accurate, are offensive players with back class, but they are both unlikely to play in the first game.

Rafael Acosta, who played the whole season, and Konstantin Bazeljuk, who came in the winter, are gone. The role of Jan Polák, 37, is uncertain.

Pavel Eismann, a 33-year-old defender, and Lukas Magera, a 35-year-old veteran offensive player, are among the new faces who are expected to get playing time. Midfielders Robert Bartolomeu, 24, and Peter Stepanovsky, 30, are also new players in the mix.

The Brno area has a large population and, traditionally, decent young teams and players. Several potential future stars were already used last year, including Antonin Rusek, Martin Zikl, Ondrej Vintr, Ladislav Krejci and Jakub Sural. A season in the second league could provide a lot of confidence. Expect other young players to get game time and experience.

Another reason Zbrojovka will push to return to the top league is that there is momentum for the city to build a new football stadium to replace the long revered former home at Boby Centrum. Brno needs a place host international football games and Zbrojovka would benefit as the regular tenant.

And, taking the long view, a year of relegation may be a good thing: Being a big fish in a small pond can be psychologically positive.

Zbrojovka had five seasons in the top league after a one-season stint in the second league in 2011-12. That second-league season was actually very exciting. Eventually, that is. Zbrojovka lost its first two games and tied its next two for a measly two points in four games. Through 14 games they had won only twice. Then, something happened: the team reeled out seven consecutive victories; had a 13-game unbeaten streak; and went 11-4-1 in the final 16 games, with several exciting finishes. Their loss was to Jihlava, which topped the second league and returned with Zbrojovka to the top-level competition.

In the five seasons that Zbrojovka was in the top league were not remarkable:
2012-13 — 13th place: 9-5-16 for 32 points.
2013-14 — Ninth place: 10-7-13 for 37 points.
2014-15 — 14th place: 9-6-15 for 33 points.
2015-16 — 6th place: 14-5-11 for 47 points.
2016-17 — 11th place: 6-14-10 for 32 points.
This past season, they were 6-6-18 with 24 points. Maybe a year of confidence-building will be the thing that breaks through the mediocrity.

Click here for the schedule. Exact dates and times are to be announced. Sundays at 6 p.m. is expected to be the normal start time for home games in the second league.

BASEBALL

Draci, Hroši Face Off In Czech Cup

Two Brno teams will face off this afternoon in the Czech Baseball Cup Finals when Draci Brno take on Cardion Hroši Brno in a one-game, winner takes all contest. First pitch is at 2 p.m.

The Cup is similar to the Football Association Cup in England in that it allows teams from all levels to participate in a large bracket of competition. Sometimes teams from lower leagues make longshot runs at the title.

Extraliga Season Continues Friday

Brno Draci and the Hroši will face off again when the Czech extraliga starts on Friday. They will play games on Friday, Saturday and Sunday.

The league, which took a break for international play, continues into September. Draci Brno finished the first part of the regular season with a 26-1 record and a four-game lead in the standings. Cardion Hroši Brno (17-10) were fifth. Technika Brno (3-24) was last.

The top six teams from the first part of the regular season will play against each other for postseason seeding purposes; the bottom four teams will play the top teams of the lower league for the right to stay in the extraliga next year.

BRNO SPORTS RESULTS

Quick results for various Brno professional and recreational sports for the past week. Home team listed first (when applicable).

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

— Baseball, exhibition game: Czech Republic 4, Taiwan 12

Thursday, July 12, 2018

— Baseball, exhibition game: Czech Republic 12, Taiwan 3

BRNO SPORTS SCHEDULE

The schedule for various Brno professional and recreational sports for the next two weeks. All dates and times subject to change. Home team listed first (when applicable).

Wednesday, July 18, 2018

— Baseball, Czech Baseball Cup Finals: Draci X Hroši, 2 p.m.

Friday, July 20, 2018

— Baseball: Draci X Hroši, 7 p.m.

Saturday, July 21, 2018

— Baseball: Hroši X Draci, 4 p.m.

Sunday, July 22, 2018

— Baseball: Hroši X Draci, 4 p.m.
— Men’s Football: Zbrojovka X Jihlava, 6 p.m.

The Brno Sports Report is published every Wednesday. All dates and times are subject to change. Most of the stories are about the traditional “English-speaking” team sports — football, hockey, baseball, basketball, American football, rugby, etc. — but it is also about the interesting local spectator and participation sports — tennis, badminton, running, horse racing, swimming, rock climbing, biking, etc. If you have any suggestions for what should be included, please comment below or send an email to brnosports@gmail.com.

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