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Home >> Sports
UPDATED: 12:14, June 08, 2006
Poles to test form through World Cup opening match against Ecuador
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Poland might not qualify to be one of Europe's top-ranked international soccer teams, but they are strong enough to beat Group A opponents Ecuador in their World Cup opening match at Gelsenkirchen on Friday.

The Poles, who surprised many by leading their qualifying group with England most of the way, clinched the berth as one of the best two runners-up after the English surged at the end to win the Group Six.

They won eight of their 10 qualifying games, edging Austria and Wales by single goals at home, only losing both home and away to the English side.

The qualification campaign indicated that the disappointment of failing to qualify for the 2004 Euro Championships is firmly in the past.

Pawel Janas, having his side playing at the top of their game, assembled the best record of any Polish national coach in 20 years, with 28 wins and six draws in his first 44 games as coach.

And players like Tomasz Frankowski and Maciej Zurawski, regarded as the keys to Poland's success, lead a strong offensive attack of the Polish side with a total of 14 goals in qualifying.

Four years ago in South Korea, Poland suffered an embarrassing group-stage exit despite an impressive win over the United States in their last game, and now there come a chance for the Poles to look for better results, though the current team of Poland are not equipped to repeat the heroics of 1974 and 1982 when they finished third.

Ecuador, who are rated 10 places behind Poland in the official FIFA rankings, however, owe their presence in this tournament only thanks to their home advantage of high altitude.

The South American team, playing at 2,800 meters above sea, took seven of their nine home qualifiers into victories, with Brazil and Argentina among the victims, and drew the other two. And they won only once at their eight away matches.

Traditionally, Ecuador has not traveled well, including their debut appearance in the 2002 finals, and coach Luis Fernando Suarez looked understandably pensive after his men scrambled to a 4-3 victory over a combined university team.

This leaves many to believe they could and will falter when they play in Group A with Poland, Germany and Costa Rica which does not favor them.

Source: Xinhua

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