Poland prepare for World Cup

Poland coach Pawel Janas has set a target for his side ahead of the World Cup draw in Leipzig on December 9th - to reach the second round.

updated: February 25, 2007 10:53 IST
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Poland coach Pawel Janas has set a target for his side ahead of the World Cup draw in Leipzig on December 9th - to reach the second round. The eastern European country finished second in their qualification group behind England, and now hope for a favourable draw in order to reach the knockout stages of the tournament in Germany next year. Poland and its 38 million inhabitants have a long and proud footballing tradition. Golden past On the streets of capital city Warsaw they still talk about the golden chapter in the sport's history. In 1972, Poland captured gold at the Olympic football tournament in Munich and followed that up with a third place finish at the World Cup - again in Germany - two years later. Perhaps most memorable of all was their team's performance at the 1982 World Cup in Spain. There, inspired by the classy Zbigniew Boniek – who was later to move to Juventus - the Poles reached third place with a famous victory over France. Poland again appeared at the World Cup in Mexico '86, but then had to endure a long period in the World Cup wilderness. Sixteen years passed before Poland qualified for a World Cup again – and their experience at Japan and Korea in 2002 did not last too long. Despite some excellent qualification performances, Poland slumped to a disappointing first round exit. But now they have the chance to make amends - coach Pawel Janas has set his team a clear target to attain - depending on the draw. The 52-year old admits there are certain teams he would prefer to avoid when the draw is made in Leipzig on December 9th: "Well, it depends on luck. Of course, we wouldn't want to play with the Brazilian or Argentinian teams and of course we wouldn't like to play with the Dutch team because they are good in Europe right now. And probably with the German one, although we don't know how good they are because they didn't take part in qualification," said Janas. Realistic aim Janas – who played for Legia Warsaw and French club Auxerre as a defender – was one of the ever-present members of the 1982 World Cup side, but has a realistic aim for his current squad. "We are basically happy to have reached the World Cup finals. So, this was the basic aim, and now we would like to leave the group stage. This is our first objective," said Janas. Janas can call upon an established, hard-working squad of players. Captain Tomasz Hajto marshals a defence that includes Liverpool goalkeeper Jerzy Dudek - with Celtic's Artur Boruc pushing him hard for his place. His club colleague Maciej Zurawski will be looking to score the goals for Poland, accompanied up front by Tottenham Hotspur striker Grzegorz Rasiak. (AP)