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Football fever grips Poland as World Cup kicks off

21.11.2022 12:30
Football fever has gripped Poland as the national team prepares to take on Mexico in its first game at the World Cup in Qatar.
Poland players during a training session in Doha, Qatar, November 19, 2022.
Poland players during a training session in Doha, Qatar, November 19, 2022.Photo: EPA/TOLGA BOZOGLU

With the national squad already in its World Cup training base in Qatar, fans are hoping the Poles will stay there as long as possible — long enough to make their mark in the tournament after years of underachievement.

The 2022 World Cup kicked off in Qatar on Sunday with a match in which the host nation lost 0-2 to Ecuador at Al Bayt Stadium in the city of Al Khor.

Poland will face off against MexicoSaudi Arabia and Argentina in the group stage of the tournament.

The Poles open their campaign against Mexico at Stadium 974 in Doha on Tuesday.

Manager Czesław Michniewicz's men will next take on Saudi Arabia at the Education City Stadium in Al Rayyan near Doha on November 26, and play Argentina at Stadium 974 in Doha four days later.

Speaking at a news conference in Qatar on Monday, Michniewicz said: "We stand a good chance of progressing past the group stage. Looking at the players, I think we have a good mix of experience and youth."

The Poles touched down in Qatar last Thursday after boarding the plane at Warsaw's Okęcie military airport and being escorted to the border by a pair of F-16 fighter jets. They are staying at the Ezdan Palace Hotel in Doha and training at the nearby Al Kharaitiyat sports club.

The Polish team last Wednesday picked up a confidence-boosting 1-0 win against Chile in a warm-up friendly game ahead of the World Cup.

FIFA’s No. 26

As the World Cup kicks off, Poland are at No. 26 in the latest ranking by the world football governing body FIFA.

Brazil are at the top of the FIFA rankings, followed by Belgium, who finished third at the 2018 World Cup in Russia.

Argentina are in 3rd place in the latest FIFA ranking, ahead of world champions France in fourth spot.

Mexico are 13th, and Saudi Arabia rank No. 51.

Poland with 16th-best chance to win World Cup: study

According to a study by experts at London's Alan Turing Institute, Brazil are in the best position to win the World Cup in Qatar, while Poland are the 16th-most likely winner.

Argentina are ranked third in the study, 13 notches above Poland. Mexico, meanwhile, are seen as the 17th-most likely winner, and Saudi Arabia are ranked 29th.

Michniewicz’s men led by Lewandowski

Poland manager Czesław Michniewicz on November 10 named his final 26-man lineup for the tournament.

The squad is led by Barcelona star striker Robert Lewandowski and includes other regulars such as Juventus goalkeeper Wojciech Szczęsny, Napoli midfielder Piotr Zieliński, and Juventus forward Arkadiusz Milik.

Lewandowski, Poland's all-time top scorer, bagged nine goals in his team’s World Cup qualifying campaign.

The 34-year-old Barcelona striker has scored 76 goals in 134 appearances for Poland.

He will be looking to net his first career World Cup goal in Qatar after failing to score at the 2018 tournament in Russia.

Poland failed to advance to the knockout phase of the 2018 World Cup in Russia after losing 1-2 to Senegal and 0-3 to Colombia in the group stage. Poland won their final game, beating Japan 1-0, but finished bottom of their Group H and made an early exit from the tournament more than four years ago.

Poland finished third in the 1974 World Cup in West Germany and were also third in Spain in 1982.

Teams from 32 nations will play a total of 64 matches at eight stadiums in Qatar during this year's World Cup, which runs until December 18.

Poland qualified for the 2022 World Cup after defeating Sweden 2-0 in a playoff at home in late March.

Meanwhile, Polish football fans heading for the World Cup in Qatar have been warned of strict alcohol regulations in that country.

Around 60,000 fans are expected to support the Polish team at the tournament in Qatar, according to news reports.


Source: TVP, IAR, PAP, polskieradio24.pl, dailymail.co.uk