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The Warsaw Voice » Society » November 3, 2014
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Polish Soccer Back in the Game?
November 3, 2014   
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Poland beat Germany 2-0 to earn their first ever win over their western neighbor (not including the former East Germany) at the 19th attempt, in front of a capacity crowd at Warsaw’s National Stadium. A 2-2 draw with Scotland three days later means Poland are now in control of Euro 2016 qualifying group D. After three games Poland are top of the group with seven points, ahead of Ireland on goal difference. In their first Euro 2016 qualifier, Poland routed underdogs Gibraltar 7-0 in September.

Bursting with pride, thousands of Poland fans streamed out of Warsaw’s state-of-the-art National Stadium after the match with Germany, waving scarves in red and white, the national colors, and chanting “We are the world champions” and “Goodbye Germany” in German.

Following the match, Poland manager Adam Nawałka said, “In such games, a squad gains its identity… I hope this will be the beginning of a new road.” He cautioned, however, against excessive optimism. “We’ve taken a small step. Let’s not be too euphoric,” he said.

Polish soccer had its heyday in the 1970s and early ‘80s. In 1972, a team coached by the legendary Kazimierz Górski grabbed an Olympic gold medal in Munich after a victory over Hungary. In 1974, Poland came third in the World Cup finals in Germany after beating Brazil. Two years later, “Górski’s Eagles” followed up with a silver medal at the Olympic Games in Montreal. In 1982, Poland, under coach Antoni Piechniczek, again finished third in the World Cup finals, this time in Spain, after beating France 3-2 in a game that would mark the end of a golden era of Polish soccer. Over the next three decades, Polish players failed to live up to expectations, often causing fans and the general public to despair.

The historic win over Germany and the subsequent draw with Scotland saw Poland jump 26 notches in soccer governing body FIFA’s world rankings to 44th place from an excruciating 70th. Germany remain top of the league table despite their defeat in Warsaw and a subsequent 1-1 draw with Ireland.

The Euro 2016 qualifying campaign will run until next fall. Qualifying Group D consists of six teams—Germany, the Republic of Ireland (ranked 61st by FIFA), Poland, Scotland (37th), Georgia (117th), and Gibraltar (unrecognized)—who play each other home and away in a round-robin format. The Euro 2016 championships will be hosted by France and kick off at Stade de France near Paris in June.

Grzegorz Siwicki
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