Population: 38,600,000
Area: 312,685 km²
Capital: Warsaw
Language: Polish

Poland took pole position in the UEFA group 5 from the first matchday and stayed there. Closest rivals Ukraine ended 4 points behind.
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Participations: (5) 1938, 1974, 1978, 1982 and 1986
Best placing: Third place 1974 and 1982
Topscorer: Grzegorz Lato, 10 goals
More detailed history information

Jun 04 - POL v KOR  in Busan
Jun 10 - POL v POR  in Jeonju
Jun 14 - POL v USA  in Daejeon

Emmanuel Olisadebe has the potential to become a sensation in this World Cup. He is a very quick, unpredictable and mobile forward with a good shot and a type of player who can create chances out of nothing.

WCA VERDICT: Through to KO stage
We predict Poland to follow Portugal to the second round from this group. They are not heads and shoulders above USA and South Korea, but they have a few potential matchwinners like Dudek in goal and Olisadebe up front who might make the difference. They also seem to have more depth in their squad.


by Mike Gibbons

    Throughout the late 1970ís and early 1980ís Poland had a squad of players that were some of the finest in Europe. When their days were over, they left a void that has not been filled until now, as Poland have qualified for their first major championships since Mexico 86.

    It seems as if this time around fate had been a lot kinder to the Poles. They were in a qualifying group which contained none of the traditional European powers, pitting them against Ukraine, Norway, Wales, Belarus and Armenia. Even so, the coach Jerzy Engel was having a torrid time with the national media, and it seemed that he was only a bad result away from losing his job. His main problem was that his team was not scoring enough goals. To rectify the situation Zbigniew Boniek, Polandís greatest ever player, recommended the granting of Polish citizenship to a certain Emmanuel Olisadebe, a young Nigerian striker who had impressed for Polonia Warsaw, in time for the start of the world cup qualifiers.

    Citizenship was granted and the move proved to be a masterstroke. Olisadebe scored twice in the opening qualifying match in Kiev, giving the Poles a superb 3-1 victory over the Ukraine to give them a flying start from which they never looked back. ĎOlií scored six more times i! n qualifying, the team grabbed crucial away victories in Norway and Wales, followed by a 3-0 thrashing of Norway in Chorzow, and with two matches to spare had secured automatic qualification to the World Cup. Engelís fortunes had come full circle, once the villain but now a national hero.

    Having revived Polish fortunes with his eight qualifying goals, Olisadebe goes to the World Cup as Polandís bright hope. He is currently on loan to Panathinaikos in the Greek league. In goal for Poland, and often outstanding in qualification, is Jerzy Dudek, now playing for Liverpool in England, where more brilliant displays have enhanced his reputation even further. He will be one of the best goalkeepers on display this summer. Polandís defence is a tight-knit unit, with experienced centre-halves Tomasz Hajto and Tomasz Waldoch both playing for Schalke in Germany, and Tomasz Klos at right back playing for Kaiserslauten. Attack-minded left-back Michal Zewlakow played in all ten qualifying matches.

    In midfield, Radoslaw Kaluzny, who also plays in Germany with Energie Cottbus, proved an unlikely source of goals in qualifying, netting five in total. Piotr Swierczewski of Marseille is looked to as the main playmaker, yet his return of just one goal in over sixty caps is a poor one. Bartosz Karwan of Legia Warsaw is likely to play on the right, whilst Marek Kozminski, currently having an unhappy spell at Brescia, should play down the left.

    Pawel Kryszalowicz of Eintracht Frankfurt will be the foil for Olisadebe in attack. In the event of injury or suspension to either the main back-up is Marcin Zewlakow, brother of left-back Michal, who like his twin plays at Mouscron in Belgium.

    Despite the fact that Poland qualified with some amount of ease, this Polish team is a limited one. A unique team spirit, so obvious in qualifying, has been vital to the teamís progress, and will be needed again to make an impression at the finals. As with their qualifying group, the draw for the finals has been reasonably kind to them. Poland have been drawn against Portugal, the USA and co-hosts South Korea. Everyone fully expects Portugal to win this group comfortably, so it would seem Poland find themselves in a three-way fight for second place in the group, and advancement to the knockout stages. Despite having only one genuine world class player in Jerzy Dudek, Poland must fancy their chances of progressing. They should have the beating of the USA, so that raises the stakes of their opening game against South Korea, in what is sure to be an electric atmosphere in Busan. Win that, and Poland will be in business.


by Jan Alsos

    Poland have participated in five World Cups. Their only pre-war appearance came in 1938 when they lost 6-5 to Brazil in a bizarre match where Ernst Willimowski became the first and only man to score four goals and still end up on the losing side. Poland had to wait until 1974 before they qualified again. The generation of Deyna, Lato, Szarmach and Tomaszewski played superb in West Germany and captured the bronzemedals having beaten teams like Argentina, Italy and Brazil on their way. Grzegorz Lato was topscorer of the tournament with 7 goals.

    Poland remained one of the worldís greatest teams for a decade. Four years later in Argentina an early second phase defeat against the hosts and later against Brazil prevented the Poles from reaching a top four position, but a new star was born in that tournament: ĎZibií Boniek. He was crucial when Poland in Spain 1982 again won bronze medals after defeating France in the play-off. The Poland of that World Cup did not have the talent of eight years earlier, but had more experience. Lato was still around and was highly involved in Polandís quest for glory, but Boniek was now the great star and one of the tournamentís best players. Unfortunately he was suspended when Poland played Italy in the semifinal.

    Poland qualified for their fourth consecutive World Cup in 1986, but failed to live up to the high standards set by the previous generations. Boniek and a number of faded stars and survivors from 1982 lost 4-0 to Brazil in the second round.




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