November 19, 2013 / 11:29 AM / in 4 years

Czechs name Plzen manager Vrba to lead national side

PRAGUE (Reuters) - Viktoria Plzen manager Pavel Vrba will take over the Czech national soccer team from January 1 after they failed to qualify for the World Cup in Brazil, the Czech soccer federation said.

FC Viktoria Plzen's coach Pavel Vrba gestures during a training session at Camp Nou stadium in Barcelona, October 18, 2011. REUTERS/Albert Gea

Vrba, 49, who guided unfancied Plzen into the Champions League in two of the past three seasons, replaces Michal Bilek who stepped down after a string of poor results scuppered the Czechs’ World Cup chances.

“I‘m very glad that we get a coach who has had many great results as well as recognition and support from professionals and the general public,” said Miroslav Pelta, chairman of the Czech Football Association.

Vrba, a journeyman player during his career in the Czech league, will guide the Czechs as they seek to qualify for the 2016 European Championship. He is a popular choice among fans who had long criticized Bilek’s cautious approach.

Reporting by Michael Kahn, Editing by Clare Fallon

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