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Hearts warned of terrorist alert

DEREK MILLER September 27 2006

Hearts supporters have been advised to avoid potential terrorist targets after Prague intelligence officials received information about a possible attack.
The Tynecastle side travel to the Czech Republic today for tomorrow's UEFA Cup first-round, second-leg tie against Sparta Prague, with the Czechs 2-0 from the first leg.

Intelligence officials in the country have been alerted to a possible terrorist threat to the city's Jewish quarter, although Sparta insist there will be no problem for anyone travelling from Edinburgh, but have urged caution in a bid to ensure the safety of fans.

Spokesman Jan Hala told an evening newspaper: "Our secret services received information about a threat to our Israeli community. Places like synagogues and the Israeli, British and American Embassies are thought to be the targets.
"The streets look normal, it is just there are more policeman with weapons in and around the city centre and near those buildings I mentioned.

"It would be sensible for the Hearts supporters to stay away from these places, but I do not think they will be too interested in them, anyway because they want to see all the pubs and drink the Czech beer. I am sure there will be no problem for our Scottish visitors.
"The area of concern is next to the main railway station, where the Israeli Embassy is, and also in the old Jewish area of the city in the old town. And, obviously, the airport is being monitored closely."

Meanwhile, the former Hearts midfielder Rudi Skacel has backed his old team to keep their UEFA Cup hopes alive. He propelled Hearts into Europe with his 17 goals from midfield last season and helped them eventually split the Old Firm.

But the Czech decided his future lay in Southampton with George Burley, the man who plotted Hearts' title bid before being sacked by Vladimir Romanov. Skacel has never hidden his love for the club, and until recently was still wearing a Hearts wristband during Southampton matches.
With Hearts facing his compatriots tomorrow in the city where he began his career, Skacel believes his former team-mates are capable of pulling off an upset.

He said: "I hope the victory over Aberdeen on Sunday will help Hearts and give them confidence that they can go there and win. They have to prepare well for this match and obviously play better than they did in the first leg at Murrayfield.
"I know, and they showed in the first game, that Sparta are also a strong team, but Hearts have to go there and make some decent chances and try and take the game to Sparta. It's only half-time in this tie."

If Hearts are to pull off an unlikely win, much will depend on Craig Gordon, according to goalkeeping coach Jim Stewart.
Gordon has produced some fine saves in the wins over Motherwell and Aberdeen and a remarkable triple save in the first-leg defeat by Sparta.

Stewart said: "The biggest thing is that his form has carried on from where it left off last season. That has been highlighted in the last couple of games, where he's made a couple of saves that have been really out of the top drawer.
"That is great to have going into Thursday night's match because he is going to have a big role to play in that game."

Taken from the Herald

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