Soccer-Santos handed Poland job based on success with Portugal, says FA

Soccer Football - Poland Press Conference - PGE Narodowy, Warsaw, Poland - January 24, 2023 Poland coach Fernando Santos, President of the Polish Football Association Cezary Kulesza and Secretary General of the Polish Football Association Lukasz Wachowski during the press conference Kuba Atys/Agencja via REUTERS

WARSAW (Reuters) - Poland appointed Fernando Santos as their new coach based on his experience managing a national team and his track record of success, Polish FA president Cezary Kulesza said on Tuesday.

Santos, who led Portugal to success at Euro 2016 and the 2018-19 Nations League with Cristiano Ronaldo as captain, was unofficially announced on Monday when Kulesza shared a picture of himself with the 68-year-old on Twitter.

"We wanted a coach who already had experience in leading a national team, so that he would not have to learn on the job," Kulesza told a news conference.

"But above all, we wanted a successful coach. Such a coach was appointed today."

Santos is only the second Poland coach this century with prior international experience following Leo Beenhakker who managed the team in 2006-2009.

Before becoming Portugal manager in 2014, Santos had a four-year spell in Greece. At club level he has managed Porto, AEK Athens, Panathinaikos, Sporting and Benfica, among others.

"I pay great attention to two words - 'us' and 'win'," Santos said as he was presented at the national stadium in Warsaw.

"We will have to get used to winning, because I think this national team has what it takes to be able to compete with any big team."

The Polish FA decided not to renew the contract of former coach Czeslaw Michniewicz after he guided the team to their first World Cup knockout stage appearance in 36 years at the 2022 tournament in Qatar.

He was criticised by his home nation for a largely defensive lineup in their opening draw against Mexico.

Santos' position with Portugal was terminated in December after the country's World Cup quarter-final exit. His contract with Poland includes two qualification cycles -- for the Euro 2024 and the 2026 World Cup -- Poland's football association said.

(Reporting by Anita Kobylinska in Washington D.C., additional reporting by Patricia Rua in Lisbon; Editing by Christina Fincher)

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