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Thursday 8 December 2016

Poland legend Zbigniew Boniek tells fans - 'we just need to beat Ireland to be sure of Euros spot'

Polish legend Zbigniew Boniek
Polish legend Zbigniew Boniek

Poland legend Zbigniew Boniek has told fans - and players - to throw away the calculators and ditch the permutations and focus on the job in hand of beating Ireland in Warsaw next month to make sure of a place at the Euro 2016 finals.

Having been on top of the Group D table for large parts of this campaign, largely thanks to that stunning win at home to Germany last October, the Poles have mixed feelings heading into their final two games, away to Scotland and at home to Ireland.

Polish fans, who will head for Glasgow in large numbers to face Scotland next month, will hope that Ireland drop points at home to Germany four days before the Poland-Ireland tie in Warsaw, where a point should be enough for Adam Nawalka's side.

But the group is finely balanced: even if Poland manage to win away to the Scots next month, they are not yet guaranteed automatic qualification, as Poland could even end up in third place (and the playoffs) if Ireland (somehow) win both of their remaining games, presuming that Germany win their final game, at home to Georgia.

But former captain Boniek wants a win over the Irish to be certain. "We are starting to calculate how we can qualify: draw here, win there, etcetera. That's a bad approach," says Boniek, now head of the Polish FA.

"That's the wrong approach to take. If we want to go to the European finals and do something there, then we have to deal with Scotland and Ireland. That means at least winning at home to Ireland, whatever about the other game. If we don't manage to do that, it means we won't get to play in the European Championship finals.

"There's no point in speculating, messing around with tables and mathematics, that's a waste of time, we just have to go and get points from the two games," added Boniek, who played at three World Cup finals tournaments with Poland but never got to play in the European Championships (Poland only qualified for the Euros for the first time in 2008)

And another ex-international wants the Polish side to have things wrapped up before Ireland play in Warsaw.

"If we win in Scotland we are guaranteed qualification, we don't have to wait until the last game against Ireland," believes ex-Poland striker Wojciech Kowalczyk, even though his maths seems to be a bit off the mark as a win in Glasgow will only guarantee the playoff place and not a top-two spot for the Poles.

"If we have to play Ireland at home where a draw will be enough for us that's fine, but we should go to Scotland next month and secure qualification there, it will make the last game more enjoyable and relaxed. We have to be careful as we could even finish fourth if we fail against Scotland and Ireland."

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