Poland were the surprise success of the last World Cup. Now the national squad is?
Poland were the surprise success of the last World Cup. Now the national squad is in serious training for this year's finals in the Argentine later this year. Even when Poland knocked out former World Cup champions England to qualify for the Munich World Cup in 1974, few expected them to progress very far in the finals. In fact, they finished third provided some of the most exciting football in the tournament.
SYNOPSIS: Poland's brand of explosive finishing, displayed when winning the Olympic title in 1972, delighted World Cup crowds. Several players have become World Cup names and many are still in the squad, now limbering up for this year's tournament. Poland's manager Jacek Gmoch.
Foremost among Poland's stars is goalkeeper Jan Tomaszewski, the country's best known footballer. He gave a tremendous performance against England at Wembley to get Poland to Munich in 1974. Other stars include Kasimierz Deyna, a Polish regular for 10 years, winger Grzegorz Lato, one of the coolest sweepers in international football Wladyslaw Zmuda, midfield star Henryk Kasperczak and defender Antoni Szymanowski.
To Work on tactics, Gmoch has taken the squad to the Polish national stadium. Though he says he is wary of the Germans - their match against the champions opens the tournament on June 1 - it is certain Poland will be well prepared. The Polish manager so famous for his data banks of information on opposing players. Gmoch himself is an international veteran. He played in 30 internationals for Poland before serious injury forced his retirement in 1968. He was assistant to Kazimierz Gorski when Poland hit the headlines in Munich.
Although Gmoch did not want to be in the same group as Mexico, Poland are considered favourites with West Germany to battle through to the quarter-finals. The other team in their group will be Tunisia.
Poland will not rely on tactics alone. They will be one of the fittest teams in Argentina. Typical of the Polish tendency to relate science and sport, Gmoch is having his players' speeds recorded and filed by a computer. There isn't much he doesn't know about other teams and there is nothing he doesn't know about his own.
A crucial factor for Poland could be the likely return to world soccer of striker Wlodzimierz Lubanski. Feared as one of the trickiest forwards in Europe, he was kept out of the Polish side at Munich by serious injury. If Gmoch can field him, along with stars like Lato, Deyna and Tomaszewski, he could have a team to prove again Poland's talent.