Poland desperate for win

Adam Nawalka (Getty Images)
Adam Nawalka (Getty Images)

Warsaw - Poland face Georgia on Friday desperate to show that their shock win over Germany in Euro 2016 qualifying Group D was no fluke as their fans dream of a new era of international success.

Victory over the world champions suddenly raised expectations in a country desperate to end years of massive under-achievement after finishing third in the 1974 and 1982 World Cups.

Generations of leading Polish players including Zbigniew Boniek, Jan Tomaszewski, Grzegorz Lato and Kazimierz Deyna never tasted victory over the Germans.

But just months after Germany won the World Cup in Brazil the Poles inflicted their first defeat in the opening qualifying match for a major tournament since 1998.

Many Polish supporters returned home from the National Stadium in absolute silence, stunned by their first win over a major footballing country since beating Portugal during qualifying for Euro 2008.

Poland failed to reach the 2010 and 2014 World Cups in South Africa and Brazil and were knocked out in the group stage of Euro 2012 which they co-hosted with Ukraine.

But coach Adam Nawalka now has a squad full of big-name players who ply their trade with major European clubs.

Striker Robert Lewandowski is at Bayern Munich, Wojciech Szczesny is Arsenal's first-choice goalkeeper, Grzegorz Krychowiak is a regular for Sevilla and Dortmund's ukasz Piszczek is second in the standings for Champions League assists this season.

Nawalka has a strong nucleus to his squad and the atmosphere within the group is as good as it has ever been.

"The win over Germany raised expectations of all," former Poland defender Michal Zewlakow, who made a record 102 appearances for his country, told Reuters.

"Now people await more wins. They want to see that beating Germany was not a coincidence. On the other hand, if we really want to think realistically about playing at the Euro 2016, in these kind of matches (against Georgia) we have to earn points, we need to win.

"Every loss of points shouldn't be satisfactory for us. One point from this trip might be taken more as a defeat than the victory. A win against Georgia would also be a sign in Europe that Poland isn't going to lose to just anyone."

Poland have played only one match in the Georgian capital, losing 3-0 in qualifying for the 1998 World Cup, but Zewlakow believes they must be positive in their approach.

"I dare to say that the match against Georgia won't be easier than the one against Germany," he said.

"They also realise that we have players like Lewandowski, Szczesny or Krychowiak.

Zewlakow knows Georgia coach Temuri Ketsbaia well.

"He was once my manager at Olympiakos Piraeus," he said.

"He's a person who always takes into the team players who are not afraid of battling. They do not always have to be the best technically, but their fitness and ambition will be at the highest level."

Poland lead Group D after three games with seven points, ahead of Ireland on goal difference.

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