- The most beautiful goal of Bednarczyk’s career
- Squad youngster Zalewski copes well
- Bayern starlet shows potential
Ahead of his side’s second group outing against Tahiti, Poland coach Jacek Magiera made several changes to the team that faced Colombia, and they clearly paid off. The hosts unveiled three new musketeers in their starting XI, who were instrumental in the 5-0 win that has the team still in contention for a place in the knockout phase at the FIFA U-20 World Cup Poland 2019.
“This was the most beautiful goal of my career,” Jakub Bednarczyk told FIFA.com of the game’s opening strike. "I like to adopt an attacking style and, although it’s not my position, when it comes to shooting, I try to imitate Cristiano Ronaldo.”
Bednarczyk, who turned 20 on 2 January this year, is the oldest member of the squad. Indeed, if he had been born two days earlier, he would have been ineligible for Poland 2019.
“For sure I’ll watch it back a few times in the hotel," he added of his thunderbolt strike. "I’d like to dedicate it to my father, Jacek, who I thanked already at the stadium. Without him, I wouldn’t have been a footballer. He was my first coach."
Equally impressive were Nicola Zalewski and Marcel Zylla, with the trio almost certainly assured of keeping their place for the decisive match against Senegal on Wednesday.
While Bednarczyk is the oldest member of the squad, Nicola Zalewski is the youngest. Like his older team-mate, the Roma academy product did not appear to be a first choice for Magiera going into the tournament. On Sunday, however, his coach entrusted him from the start.
“I decided to go with Nicola because we had problems with one-on-ones in wide midfield positions against Colombia. And it’s a job he can do,” explained Magiera. “The fact that Nicola is the youngest member of the team doesn’t mean that he can’t play from the first minute. He’s never had a problem competing with his older team-mates, which proves he is a strong player.”
Zalewski could not hide his satisfaction after the win, which came in front of a lively crowd of 15,000-plus in Lodz.
“I’m happy with my World Cup debut," he said. "Yes, I’m the youngest member of the team, but I was anxious only for the first ten minutes. Afterwards, I felt really good.
"After the loss against Colombia, things were a bit tense. Now they’re calmer, but we know that our job’s not done yet. We have to win against Senegal, and I believe we will.”
The third musketeer, Bayern Munich’s Marcel Zylla, also had much to be proud of from his performance. When a Polish player from the Bavarian club makes headlines, it's usually Robert Lewandowski. But last night it was Zylla's turn.
In the hosts’ opening match against Los Cafeteros, he came on in the second half and showed sufficient promise for Magiera to start him against Tahiti. It proved a wise decision; first Zylla hit the bar and then converted his second effort to put his side ahead 2-0 in the 37th minute. He later laid off a delightful pass to Dominik Steczyk for his first assist of the tournament.
A goal and an assist? Not bad for the Munich-born youngster. Poland fans would like nothing better than a repeat performance against Senegal.