For the Polish national team, the memories of what happened in
stoppage time during their second group-match at the 2006 FIFA
World Cup Germany™ are as vivid as ever.
In a thrilling encounter with the host nation, it was still scoreless after 90 minutes, when Germany's Oliver Neuville set Dortmund alight with his last-gasp winner. For his part, Jacek Krzynowek had been substituted by this time and could only watch powerless from the bench.
Naturally, the manner of the defeat still rankles with the Polish midfielder, which is why he is eager to get another crack at the Germans at the upcoming UEFA European Championship. FIFA.com spoke with the 32-year-old Wolfsburg star about his side's chances of upsetting the odds in Austria and Switzerland, his excitement about another clash with Germany and his dream of South Africa 2010.
FIFA.com: Jacek, the countdown to UEFA EURO 2008 has begun
and you are one of the regulars in the Polish national side. Are
you looking forward to taking on the best national teams in Europe
in Austria and Switzerland?
Jacek Krzynowek: Obviously, I'm really looking forward to it. This is the first time we've qualified for a European Championship, so it's a big thing for us. We know all the other teams will be going into the tournament with the same determination as us, so I think it'll be a fascinating challenge.
Of all teams for Poland to be drawn against, you got
Germany on 8 June. On the one hand, you and many of your
compatriots earn their living in the Bundesliga, but on the other
there is the bitter memory of your last-minute defeat to Germany at
the group stage of the 2006 FIFA World Cup. Is this a revenge match
Yes, we're looking for revenge for our World Cup defeat. It's a special match for me because I know some of the German players really well, like Simon Rolfes, Lukas Podolski and Miroslav Klose. But Germany are the favourites, not just in our group but in the whole competition.
What is the feeling among Polish fans at the moment? Are
they really upbeat about Poland's chances or more sceptical
after the recent 3-0 defeat against the USA?
The feeling is very positive and the fans are expecting a lot from us. They want to see us play just as we did in the qualifying competition, when we won our group. We didn't perform at all against the USA, but I think it was just a bad day at the office for us. It brought us back down to earth a little.
How does Poland's team compare to the top footballing
nations in Europe?
It's difficult to say really. This is the first time we've qualified and that shows how tough the competition is. However, as Greece showed when they became European champions, anything is possible.
Do you think Poland can cause an upset at EURO 2008? What
would be a realistic goal for you?
Why not? Our main aim is to get through the group phase. After that, you have to take one game at a time because every game is a final. As I said, anything's possible with a bit of luck.
How do you rate the other teams in your group, Germany,
Croatia and Austria?
Everyone knows about Germany. Croatia might have peaked too soon, but they have a really strong team and you can't underestimate them. Austria have home advantage so they might cause an upset or two.
In terms of your international career, have you thought
beyond this tournament? For instance, do you still dream of
competing at South Africa 2010?
I'm not thinking that far ahead. However, I'd love to go to South Africa in 2010 and I believe I'll still be at the top of my game at 34.