Polish star hails Keane record
Published 18/11/2013 | 19:06
Poland striker Robert Lewandowski has hailed Robbie Keane's international scoring record as he prepares to face Ireland.
The 25-year-old Borussia Dortmund hitman is the star of the Polish side and will represent a major threat to Martin O'Neill's men as the Ulsterman and counterpart Adam Nawalka each take charge of a second game for their respective countries at the INEA Stadium in Poznan on Tuesday evening.
Nawalka suffered a 2-0 defeat by Slovakia in Wroclaw on his big night on Friday, while Ireland handed O'Neill a 3-0 victory over Latvia at the Aviva Stadium.
As so often in the last 15 years, it was 33-year-old Keane who opened the scoring on the night to take his tally to 62 senior goals, and the magnitude of that feat is not lost on Lewandowski.
He said: "I believe that the statistics are really impressive. Sixty-two goals scored for the Irish squad is really an impressive figure.
"I know that Keane has played for the Irish squad for so many years and we know they are very strong.
"But we don't want to concentrate on an individual player. We know they have very good individuals in the team, but we have to focus on how we are going to play.
"When we focus on what we need to do, we will know how to implement what the coaches have been telling us to do on the pitch.
"If the squad plays well, each individual player has an easier job."
Nawalka, who replaced Waldemar Fornalik following his failure to take the Poles to next summer's World Cup finals in Brazil, blamed defensive frailties for his side's defeat by the Slovakians.
However, he remains convinced the players he has selected and the strategy he has employed will ultimately pay dividends.
He said: "Naturally, we will approach the friendly against Ireland with a lot of faith. We want to regain the trust of our fans.
"Our preparations have been tailored to this very game. We wanted the players to recuperate physically after the game against Slovakia, and we have to eliminate the mistakes from the last game.
"I would especially like to point out some of the mistakes committed by our defenders. It was those errors which made us lose control of the game because until the 15th minute we were pretty much in control. But later on, things got out of hand.
"For the last few days, we have mainly worked on the mental side of our players. Everybody is looking forward to the game and getting a good result, not only for the fans but for the players and the coaches."
Poland's chances of doing just that could depend largely on how Ireland cope with Lewandowski, who scored in a 3-2 friendly victory over the Irish at Croke Park in November 2008.
He will at least be on familiar turf having made his name at Lech Poznan and scored a double for his country at their stadium against the Ivory Coast in November 2010.
Lewandowski said: "I spent two wonderful years here with a lot of success and I have always wanted to come back here, so this is especially pleasurable for me.
"I hope the stadium will be as lucky for me as it was when I played with Lech Poznan, and also against the Ivory Coast, there was a friendly game some time ago here and I scored a number of goals."