“To leave the group stage”- this is the aim of every Poland Football National Team coach in every international cup. Yet… they fail every single time. Poland Minifootball National Team broke the “group stage curse” in their very first performance in miniEURO. Poland had reached quarter-final, with only two matches lost – against miniEURO 2013 champions and runners up, Romania and Croatia.
11th October – that was the day of Poland’s debut on their first miniEURO. Our rivals, Croatia, were said to be one of the strongest teams of the tournament. Surprisingly, it was Poland who took a lead in the first half – after an individual effort, Jarosław Filiks found a gap between Croatian goalkeeper’s legs. Unfortunately for Poland, Ivan Rancic scored an equalizer five minutes before the final whistle. Second match, against title defenders, Romania, ended with a 0:1 loss. It was the third match, against Slovenia, which was to decide about our fate.
Those, who expected a close-fought football battle, must had been disappointed. Polish players started the goal cannonade in the first half, with Adrian Filipiak scoring in 19th minute. In 23th and 33th minute Igor Świątkiewicz scored another two. Although Miha Borse answered with a goal, a quick response came from Wojciech Jankowski. Poland won 4:1 and it was enough to bring us to the knock-out stage.
There Poland had to face Kazakhstan. First half was the worst Poland’s performance in the cup; Kazakhstan scored only one goal, but should have scored few more. After a break, Polish players were again in their best. First our captain, Kamil Fryszka scored directly from corner kick and a minute before final whistle Jarosław Filiks scored the game-winning goal with a right-foot volley.
In the quarter-final Poland had to face Croatia again. The first match ended with a draw, but this time the team from Balkans were too strong for us. After a first half we had hope for semi-final qualification, but in first minutes of the second half goals from Igor Gusak and Ivan Rancic shattered our illusions about miniEURO medal.
Despite weak performance in quarter-final, Poland’s debut in miniEURO was definitely successful. The only teams that defeated our team played each other in the cup final. Succeeding to leave the “group of death” and reaching the quarter finals made Polish fans definitely satisfied. Game-time experience will pay off in the next miniEURO cup. Winning a miniEURO medal in a year from now? It’s certainly not impossible.
MiniEURO in Greece was a fantastic experience for our players, but what’s even more important – it was a fantastic holiday of football in which everyone won. As a Polish Minifootball Federation we would like to therefore congratulate especially to Greek organising team for a great organization, hospitality and fantastic atmosphere. Our Greek friends: Poland thanks you for this.