Thu, Jun 07, 2012 - Page 18 News List

EURO 2012 GROUP A: Co-hosts Poland’s goal is to advance past group stages

Reuters, WARSAW

Poland players Robert Lewandowski, front right, and Marcin Wasilewski, front left, train on Tuesday at Polonia Warszawa Stadium in Warsaw, Poland.

Photo: EPA / PAP

Co-hosts Poland will rely heavily on their trio of Borussia Dortmund players as they seek to prove they might be viewed as “last, but not least” at Euro 2012.

Poland, at No. 65 in the FIFA rankings, are the lowest-ranked nation in the tournament, but coach Franciszek Smuda believes they can progress to the quarter-finals from Group A where they face Russia, Greece and the Czech Republic.

“The goal is clear — to advance from the group,” Smuda, who will turn 64 during the tournament, was quoted as saying by the Futbolnews.pl portal.

“And when you advance in a tournament, you get a kick out of it. We don’t have big stars. We can achieve something only as a team,” he said.

The team, which under Smuda has a moderate record, but are unbeaten in their last six matches, does have one big talent — striker Robert Lewandowski, the 23-year-old whose goals have helped Borussia Dortmund retain the Bundesliga title.

Defender Lukasz Piszczek and midfielder Jakub Blaszczykowski, together with Lewandowski, give the Bundesliga champions a strong Polish spine that the coach hopes will stiffen the national team in their second appearance at the Euro finals.

Poland made a hapless debut at Euro 2008 and are seeking a revival in fortunes nearly 30 years after finishing third, for the second time, at the 1982 World Cup finals. They were also third in 1974.

Apart from the three Dortmund players, Arsenal’s 22-year-old goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny appears to be the only other clearly established starter for Poland’s opening game against Greece tomorrow.

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