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Poland's defensive woes show in France friendly

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09 Jun 2011 22:30:05

Poland's defensive woes show in France friendly

Euro 2012 co-hosts Poland failed to inspire yet again on Thursday, losing 1-0 to France in a friendly that underlined their defensive woes.

Defender Tomasz Jodlowiec deflected a shot by France midfielder Charles N'Zogbia into his own goal in the 12th minute, accidentally beating his own keeper Wojciech Szczesny, for the only goal of the game.

France, meanwhile, put in an underwhelming performance which nonetheless extended manager Laurent Blanc's unbeaten run to 10 games.

The match was also a disappointment for French-born Poland midfielder Ludovic Obraniak, who notched up nothing more than a yellow card in his first-ever encounter with Les Bleus.

Poland manager Franciszek Smuda faces constant battles with doubters as he strives to build a squad capable of shining on home turf in the 2012 European Championships.

Like fellow hosts Ukraine, Poland have an automatic berth at Euro 2012 and must rely on friendlies to hone their skills.

Having failed to qualify for the 2010 World Cup, they will have gone 968 days without a competitive match by the time Euro 2012 kicks off in Warsaw on June 8 next year.

In 22 matches since Smuda took over in October 2009 following the World Cup qualifying crash, Poland have now won eight, drawn seven and lost seven.

Hopes for the France match had been high, after Poland beat an albeit under-strength Argentina 2-1 in Warsaw on Sunday, on the back of away games in March which saw them draw 0-0 with Greece and lose 2-0 to Lithuania.

France are themselves under pressure in their Euro 2012 qualifying campaign.

Despite topping Group D, they struggled in a 1-1 away draw against Belarus last Friday.

Blanc recrafted his squad after that game, and his side went on to thrash Ukraine 4-1 on Monday.

Thursday's match took place at Warsaw's Legia Stadium.

The Poles had to make an embarrassing switch to the first-division's club ground because the originally-planned venue, in the Baltic port of Gdansk, was not ready in time.

Gdansk will be home to one of Poland's four Euro 2012 stadiums.

The first, in Poznan, opened last September and the third, in Wroclaw, is due in October.

Further construction delays are set to upset plans for a friendly against Germany on September 6 which was meant to mark the opening of Poland's new national stadium in Warsaw, now not expected until November.

Polish organisers and European football's governing body UEFA have brushed off concerns, however.

They underline that all four grounds will be ready well in time for the tournament, which kicks off on June 8, 2012.


AFP

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