Sport Soccer

Saturday 16 December 2017

Fornalik vows to deliver victory as Valentine’s gift to all the women of Poland

Liam Kelly

Liam Kelly

POLAND manager Waldemar Fornalik put up the shutters and refused to name his team for tonight's friendly with the Republic of Ireland.

Fornalik, who took over from former international Franciszek Smuda as head coach after Poland's disappointing Euro 2012 showing, did, however, show some smart mental agility when faced with a tricky question by a Polish journalist.

The coach was asked that if Poland defeated the Irish tonight would he dedicate victory to his wife as a St Valentine's Day present – "or do you have something else in mind for her?"

Fornalik was taken aback and paused before coming back with a clever riposte: "If winning the match was to be a present from the team to all the women of Poland, let it be so."

Way to save yourself from a night or two on the sofa, Waldemar!

Romantic gestures aside, the 49-year-old gave little away.

Fornalik has guided his side through three World Cup Group H qualifying matches, with draws against Montenegro and England and a win over Moldova in the bag.


He will field an experimental team against the Irish and will be without Borussia Dortmund star Lukasz Pisczek, who was injured in Saturday's win over Bayer Leverkusen.

One factor that will help Poland is the estimated 15,000 – 20,000 of their countrymen and women expected to attend the Aviva Stadium tonight.

"Ireland would normally have a 12th man with their home crowd, but we expect that will be equalised by our supporters," said Fornalik.

"This is a very important match for us before our group matches in the World Cup, particularly the match against Ukraine.

"We have a very strong group of players with us and I am confident they can put on a good display of football.

"The Irish team will pose a real threat to us. We don't forget that they qualified for Euro 2012 and that was an achievement in itself.

"As with every team after a major championships, Ireland are going through a process of change, and that can cause problems for any team.

"But we know they will not be an easy team to beat."

The visiting team's coach is keeping his options open on which of his two top goalkeepers to use as he has strong options with Artur Boruc of Southampton and Wojciech Szczesny of Arsenal.

"I will make a decision soon and it's possible each of them will play a half in this match," added Fornalik.

Irish Independent

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