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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.

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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