Home South Africa POLAND – Poland hopes for knockout in Qatar – SABC News

POLAND – Poland hopes for knockout in Qatar – SABC News

85
0

FIFA rating: 26

Coefficients: 100-1

Previous tournaments:

Poland has competed in eight World Cups, including the most recent in Russia, but failed to qualify in 2010 and 2014. Their best results were in 1974 and 1982, when they finished third. Poland have not made it past the group stage since 1986, when they lost 4-0 to Brazil in the Round of 16.

How they qualified:

Poland finished second in qualifying Group I behind England and booked their place in Qatar after beating Sweden 2-0 in a play-off. Fifa allowed Poland to bye to the final round of the play-offs after Russia was banned from international football for its invasion of Ukraine, which Moscow calls a “special military operation”.

Form Guide:

After qualifying, Poland’s next Nations League games included two wins, both against Wales, a 2-2 draw with the Netherlands and three defeats, including a 6-1 loss to Belgium in June. Striker Robert Lewandowski scored just one goal in the five games he played.

Set for knockout in Qatar

Poland will have to look to more than just leading striker Robert Lewandowski if they are to overcome the difficulties of the group stage and reach the knockout rounds at the World Cup in Qatar. Poland, drawn in Group C alongside Argentina, Mexico and Saudi Arabia, last reached the knockout phase in 1986.

They have since qualified for three more World Cups in 2002, 2006 and 2018, winning one group game and losing the other two in each of them. Poland’s best tournament performance in the last decade was at Euro 2016, where they advanced to the knockout stage from a group with Ukraine, Northern Ireland and Germany.

They beat Switzerland in the last 16 before being knocked out by eventual champions Portugal in the quarters, but their last two major tournaments, the 2018 World Cup and Euro 2020, have been disappointing as they finished last in their groups.

The good news for coach Czeslaw Michniewicz is that he has quality players at his disposal. The bad news is that he is still struggling to adjust them ahead of his first World Cup.

Michniewicz took over in January after former coach Paulo Souza, who oversaw Poland’s World Cup qualifying campaign, unexpectedly left the team to take charge of Brazil’s Flamengo.

Michniewicz has been tipped by the Polish Football Association to lead the team at the World Cup after his three-year spell in charge of the country’s under-21 side. But the 52-year-old, who has never coached outside Poland, struggled to get the most out of talisman Lewandowski, who looked isolated when deployed as the lone striker in Michniewicz’s system.

Poland have three wins, three losses and two draws under Michniewicz, a run in which Lewandowski has scored just two goals. The Barcelona forward, one of the most feared strikers in world football, said he would prefer to play alongside another striker and Poland’s hopes are on him repeating his club form for his country.

With Michniewicz stepping down and playing with two strikers in Qatar, FC Charlotte’s Karol Swiderski, who has scored seven goals in his last 12 games for Poland, and Juventus striker Arkadiusz Milik will battle it out to replace Lewandowski. Lewandowski and Milik formed a powerful partnership for Poland in years past before a series of injuries derailed the latter, even ruling him out of the last Euros.

Apart from the forward line, the form of Napoli midfielder Piotr Zielinski will also be crucial to Poland’s success. The 28-year-old, who has played more minutes under Michniewicz than any other player in Poland, is a creative force with the passing ability to unlock defences.

Goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny is a steady presence behind a backline that includes experienced Benevento defender Kamil Glik and Aston Villa’s Jan Bednarek. Getting out of the group in Qatar would be considered a success for Poland, but a lot still depends on which team will assemble under the leadership of the new coach.

The team announced:

Wojciech Szczesny, Lukasz Skorupski, Bartlomey Dragowski

Jan Bednarek, Matty Cash, Bartosz Beroszynski, Kamil Glik, Robert Gumny, Artur Jędrzejczyk, Jakub Kiwior, Mateusz Wiecska, Nikola Zalewski, Kristian Belik, Przemyslaw Frankowski, Kamil Grasicki, Jakub Kaminski, Grzegorz Krychowiak, Michal Skoras, Damian Szymanski, Sebastian Shi , Piotr Zielinski, Szymon Zurkowski, Robert Lewandowski, Arkadyush Milik, Krzysztof Piatek and Karol Svidzerski.

Source by [author_name]