Poland's national team has a difficult road ahead in this summer's World Cup. DW-WORLD.DE spoke to Polish coach Pawel Janas about his preparations for his team's group round match up against the German hosts.
Much of the credit for the return of Polish soccer is attributed to Pawel Janas
The Polish team rebou n ded from a disappoi n ti n g first rou n d elimi n atio n i n the 2002 World Cup a n d failure to make it to the the 2004 Europea n Champio n ship by wi n n i n g all but o n e of their Germa n y 2006 qualifyi n g matches a n d n ow are looki n g to ope n a n ew chapter of n atio n al soccer history.
DW-WORLD.DE: I n 1974, the last time the World Cup was held i n Germa n y, Pola n d reached third place, the best result i n the history of Polish soccer. Is a repeat performa n ce realistic?
Pawel Janas: First of all, I have to say that Poland also made it to third place in the 1982 World Cup in Spain. As a player, I was personally involved in that sporting event by playing every minute of all the games. I think it testifies to the fact that the Polish team has the opportunity to put in very good performances.
Poland's Kamil Kosowski, in red, suffered only one qualification loss
E n gla n d were the o n ly o n es your team could n 't be i n qualificatio n a n d you wo n the rest of the games. Is that a war n i n g sig n for your group oppo n e n ts Germa n y , Ecuador a n d Costa Rica ?
There is only one thing my team thinks about at every game: winning. To get back to your question, our opponents' team trainers will have to come to their own conclusions.
Is n 't it easier to play whe n you are u n derestimated a n yway?
You have to separate two things here. We are not a favorite for this World Cup, but the Polish fans always put a lot of hope behind their team, which means we are "playing under pressure" to a certain degree.
Where did your team's n ew stre n gth a n d rediscovered self-co n fide n ce come from? What makes the Polish team so stro n g?
For the people who are familiar with the history of Polish soccer, it is clear that our national team hasn't had such bad results in the past few years. We took part in the past World Cup, and we were unlucky to be eliminated from the European Championship in Portugal. So the reason we are continually able to improve our performances is not, as you said, "the addition of new strengths," but, as I jokingly like to say our bad luck has finally left us!
Polish midfielder Tomas Frankowski was crucial to Poland's qualification campaign
Does the cou n try put Polish soccer's rebou n d dow n to your excelle n t work as trai n er or other factors like a n improved youth program or eve n just simple luck? How much tale n t is there?
This question deals with a very broad subject. In the interests of keeping the interview somewhat short, I'd say that all three factors played a role. My "excellent work as trainer" is really just good work. I'd also especially emphasize that the Polish national team's success is doubtlessly due in part to work by club team coaches, inside and outside of Poland, as well as the youth program.
Pola n d is especially stro n g i n the offe n se together -- Maciej Zurawski a n d Tomas Fra n kowski scored 14 goals i n qualificatio n . Do these two have what it takes to be World Cup greats?
Yes, I think so. But I still have to emphasize that no player has been invited to World Cup team yet.
How far will the Polish team make it?
Next question please.
Jürgen Klinsmann's team will prove hard to beat at home
How stro n g do you thi n k the Germa n team is?
The German team is very balanced and it's difficult to find its weak points. Germany is a candidate to win the world champion title. I hope that our teams meet twice during this tournament.
Do you keep up with Germa n soccer?
My staff and I have always closely followed German soccer, including in our consideration of our team members who play in the German league.
Do you thi n k Germa n y will live up to its goal of hosti n g a n ope n , tolera n t a n d frie n dly tour n ame n t?
The Germans are known as masters of organization around the world. For many years German-Polish relations have been really friendly, and that's a word I'm not afraid to use. Additionally, Germany plays a meaningful role in Europe, it is a founder of the EU. I hope that answers your question.
What's your advice for the Polish players?
Keep a good atmosphere in the team, dedication to the constant improvement of team mates' technical abilities, motivation during the games and an affection for improvisation and imagination.
A n d who is goi n g to wi n the World Cup?
Brazil are my favorites, but Germany should also win a medal.