Poland coach Franciszek Smuda today announced the UEFA EURO 2012 co-hosts' 23-man squad declaring it the worst moment of a coach's career. Smuda made the announcement, including telling the three players that were surplus to requirements, as they wrapped up their training camp here less than two weeks before kicking off the tournament.
Having released a 26-name list on 2 May ahead of the Bialoczerwoni's camps in Turkey and Austria, Smuda had until the end of this month to shave it to the 23 allowed under UEFA rules. The unlucky trio were defenders Tomasz Jodlowiec of Polonia Warsaw and Kamil Glik of Italy's recently promoted Serie A side Torino, plus Legia Warsaw striker Michal Kucharczyk.
"This decision was incredibly hard for the team staff," said Smuda. "It's probably the worst moment for a manager, having to tell three players that they won't continue training."
Added to Smuda's list was substitute goalkeeper Grzegorz Sandomierski of Belgian club Genk, called up on Saturday to replace Arsenal's Lukasz Fabianski.
Fabianski, understudy to club and country team-mate Wojciech Szczesny, played in Poland's 1-0 friendly win over Latvia in Austria on Tuesday, but doctors decided it was too risky to include him in the final squad due to a shoulder injury. "This is a tragedy for him. He was in good form, we saw that in training," said Smuda.
Poland also beat Slovakia 1-0 on Saturday in their penultimate tune up in Austria. They play their final pre-EURO 2012 friendly next Saturday back home in Warsaw against minnows Andorra. Smuda has not pulled any major surprises as his squad brace for the tournament, co-hosted with neighbouring Ukraine. The only newcomer is 19-year-old Legia Warsaw midfielder Rafal Wolski - a rising star and on the radar of foreign clubs - who made his debut in the Latvia match.
Smuda, at the helm since October 2009, traditionally relies on players from foreign leagues, notably Germany's Bundesliga. They include star striker Robert Lewandowski, midfielder and captain Kuba Blaszczykowski and defender Lukasz Piszczek, all at double winners Borussia Dortmund. "They are the backbone of the squad," underlined Smuda.
Despite the back to back friendly wins, Poland will have their work cut out at the tournament proper against resilient Group A opponents Greece, the Czech Republic and Russia. Having failed to reach the 2010 FIFA World Cup™, and with an automatic hosts' berth at EURO 2012, Poland will have gone 968 days without a competitive match by the time they kick off against Greece on 8 June in Warsaw.
"Of course we have a chance to progress from the group and make it to the quarter finals. But the first game is the most important for us," said Smuda.
Goalkeepers: Wojciech Szczesny (Arsenal/ENG), Przemyslaw Tyton (PSV Eindhoven/NED), Grzegorz Sandomierski (Genk/BEL)
Defenders: Sebastian Boenisch (Werder Bremen/GER), Marcin Kaminski (Lech Poznan), Damien Perquis (Sochaux/FRA), Lukasz Piszczek (Borussia Dortmund/GER), Marcin Wasilewski (Anderlecht/BEL), Jakub Wawrzyniak (Legia Warsaw), Grzegorz Wojtkowiak (Lech Poznan)
Midfielders: Kuba Blaszczykowski (Borussia Dortmund/GER), Dariusz Dudka (Auxerre/FRA), Kamil Grosicki (Sivasspor/TUR), Adam Matuszczyk (Fortuna Duesseldorf/GER), Adrian Mierzejewski (Trabzonspor/TUR), Rafal Murawski (Lech Poznan), Ludovic Obraniak (Bordeaux/FRA), Eugen Polanski (Mainz/GER), Maciej Rybus (Terek Grozny/RUS), Rafal Wolski (Legia Warsaw)
Forwards: Pawel Brozek (Celtic/SCO), Robert Lewandowski (Borussia Dortmund/GER), Artur Sobiech (Hannover 96/GER)