Played 3, lost 2, drawn 1, scored 1, conceded 4. This Polish team was simply woeful and perhaps the worst team of the tournament. Poland lost 0-1 to Croatia who after qualifying for the next round decided to rest practically their whole team and play a reserve side. However, Croatia’s reserve side outplayed and outclassed a dreadful Polish side that simply did nothing.
40 million or so Polish people were convinced that the national side would be able to put up a good performance against Germany, beat Austria and grind out a decent result against Croatia. But why? Why was the whole of Poland so convinced this would happen when reality demonstrated to us that Poland were never up to the task. In fact, the Poland that turned out at Euro 2008 looked a far worst team than the one at the 2006 World Cup in Germany. The reason for this misplaced optimism arose from the now historic victory against Portugal in the qualifiers. The sad truth, however, is that Poland never actually looked a good team and that one victory against Portugal seemed to spur the Poles on and believe in something no more than a pipe dream.
Success in Failure
The much-maligned, tainted and corrupt Polish Football Association (PZPN) needs to have a long, hard look at itself. On the backdrop of what has been going on in Polish football in recent years – corruption, dodgy refereeing, bizarre decisions by the PZPN regarding promotions and relegations (with rules changes every year and sometimes even mid-season) – then the Polish national side have done unbelievably well. In fact, their success in the qualifiers is unprecedented when compared to the quality of domestic football and respect has to go to Dutch coach Beenhakker for his work on and off the field.
Quo Vadis, Polonia?
It would be foolish to sack Beenhakker because, as I’ve mentioned, Poland were never going to pull up trees and suddenly become world beaters. They simply didn’t have the quality, speed, guile, passion or know-how to win a game. This will be particularly worrying and personally deflating for Leo who now completes his THIRD international tournament without winning a single game. But Poland can take heart from the fact that they did qualify for this tournament in the first place, they are hosting the next Euro tournament and they have, in their goalkeeper Artur Boruc, a player who will no doubt go on to greater things and, God willing, will be a shining light for Polish football for the next ten years or so.