Winless Poland want to reward their loyal supporters

  • Other Sport
  • Monday, 16 Jun 2008

BAD TATZMANNSDORF (Austria): Poland need to beat Croatia today even if it only amounts to a graceful exit from Euro 2008, said defender Michal Zewlakow.

“We have let our fans down so far and they have been our driving force so we really have to do everything we can to give them something to cheer,” Zewlakow told reporters.

“Also if there is merely a one-in-a-million chance we go through to the last eight we have to fight until the bitter end to seize the opportunity.”

Drive carefully: Poland coach Leo Beenhakker talking to defender Michal Zewlakow after a trainingsession in Bad Waltersdorf, Austria, on Saturday. – AP

To have any chance of advancing Poland must win by two goals in Klagenfurt and hope Austria defeat Germany in Vienna by a more slender margin.

Croatia are already through as Group B winners but Zewlakow does not expect any favours.

“We know they will be relaxed and probably start with a number of second-string players eager to prove their worth and impress their coach,” he said.

“They are on a high while the atmosphere in our camp took a dip after our opening 2-0 defeat to Germany and it’s time we lifted ourselves.”

Coach Leo Beenhakker, who dismissed Poland’s chances of progressing after Thursday’s 1-1 draw with Austria, has changed his mind.

“We still believe we can reach the knockout stage and we are completely focused on the task,” said the Dutchman.

“Naturally we will send out an attacking line-up against Croatia because we need to score some goals.”

While Beenhakker appears set to retain his 4-4-2 formation, counterpart Slaven Bilic made it clear he would rest several players.

“It would be madness to field first-choice players who are on one yellow card and we also have a few with minor knocks and bruises who need a break,” said Bilic.

“We have pride to play for, just like against England at Wembley, so we are completely determined to field a strong team aiming to continue our winning streak.”

Croatia had already qualified for the Finals when they knocked England out with a 3-2 win in November. – Reuters

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