(Credit: Peter O'Doherty)
Polish manager Waldemar Fornalik was keeping his cards close to his chest when he met the media in Aviva Stadium on the eve of Wednesday’s friendly international with Ireland. As per his tradition, Giovanni Trapattoni named his team a day ahead of the game while Fornalik, despite probing from the Polish press, was sticking with his own tradition of only announcing the team on the day of the game.
Most speculation about Fornalik’s team revolves around the goalkeeping situation and who to choose from between the two English based goalkeepers in his squad. The decision is between Arsenal’s Wojciech Szczesny and Southampton’s ‘keeper Arthur Boruc. Fornalik hinted that both may play a part in the game but the goalkeeping situation “is a competition. We haven’t made a decision yet.”
Fornalik is looking forward to playing in front of the Aviva Stadium crowd that could well provide a home-like atmosphere for his team. “It is very hard to say who the favourite is as there will be so many supporters from Poland. If there was only Irish supporters, they would have the 12th player but in this scenario it is hard to say who is the favourite.”
Both sides were eliminated in the group stages of Euro 2012 but Poland, who drew against Greece and Russia, only went out when they conceded a late goal to the Czech Republic in their final group game. Ireland’s performances, admittedly in a much harder group, were thoroughly forgettable, as was the 6-1 defeat to Germany last Autumn.
Fornalik wasn’t reading too much into that heavy loss to Germany. “We have analysed the Irish team. It is hard to base our opinion’s on the game against Germany. We are ready for every option to be honest,” he said in relation to Ireland’s formation. “Let us not forget that the Irish team took part in Euro 2012. They got into Euro 2012, this is quite crucial. Every team after such a tournament goes through a process of change which could be quite problematic. Ireland is also going through that process of change. Ireland can do quite well and will not be an easy team to beat.”
Fornalik has had to deal with the loss of influential defender Lukasz Piszczek. The Borussia Dortmund player picked up a hip injury at the weekend against Bayer Leverkusen and, while he joined up with the Polish squad at the weekend, he returned to Germany on Tuesday while the rest of the squad travelled to Dublin. Widzew Lodz’s Lukasz Broz was called up as a replacement.
The Polish manager admitted “this is a problem for us. The replacement for Piszczek will be somebody who will bring a lot of value to the team so that should diminish the loss. There are three possibilities of players who could play in that position.” These include Sebastian Boenisch and Marci Wasiliewski but Jakub Wawrzyniak from Legia Warswa is expected to start.
Grzegorz Krychowiak will anchor the midfield but as to who will play along side him, well, Fornalik was giving nothing away. “I will not answer this question in front of the media. The players will find out first. We have a few candidates and a few options for us. I don’t think there will be too many surprises.”
Poland currently lie third in Group H behind Montenegro and England with Ukraine behind them in the table and the focus after this friendly will be their home game with Ukraine next month. “I would like to say that this match is quite important to us. It is a very important test before the World Cup elimination matches and before the match with Ukraine. The group of players that came with us is a strong group of players. They can show good football. We count on our team and we count on their good performance.”
Poland (probable): Wojciech Szcz?sny (Arsenal); Jakub Wawrzyniak (Legia Warsaw), Damien Perquis (Real Betis), Kamil Glik (Torino), Sebastian Boenisch (Bayer Leverkusen); Jakub B?aszczykowski (Borussia Dortmund), Grzegorz Krychowiak (Reims), Daniel ?ukasik (Legia Warsaw), Adrian Mierzejewski (Trabzonspor); Ludovic Obraniak (Bordeaux), Robert Lewandowski (Borussia Dortmund).
Macdara made his debut as a football supporter in Lansdowne Road watching Ireland defeat Liechtenstein. He still believes one day he will see his club Shamrock Rovers win an FAI Cup. You can follow Macdara on twitter @macdarabueller