Boenisch back for Poland in Portugal friendly

15 February 2012 05:17

Defender Sebastian Boenisch on Wednesday was called up by Euro 2012 co-hosts Poland for the February 29 friendly against Portugal, a year after injury halted his international career.

The 25-year-old Werder Bremen player, who was born in Poland but played at youth level for Germany, was included in a 22-strong squad chosen by manager Franciszek Smuda and which drew heavily on players from Germany's top-flight Bundesliga.

"Sebastian's been through a tough time, he was out injured for the long haul. But he's a skilled player, and we need a leftside defender," Smuda told journalists.

Boenisch made his debut in September 2010 against Ukraine, and won another cap in a second friendly the same month against Australia, before being sidelined.

He is one of a handful of internationals to have benefited from a strategic shift by Poland's football association.

It cast its net in the large Polish diaspora following criticism for doing nothing to tempt the likes of Lukas Podolski, who was born in Poland but opted for Germany where he grew up.

Like Podolski, Boenisch emigrated to Germany as a boy.

Although he played for Germany's under-21s, football's world governing body FIFA allows youth internationals to switch country relatively easily.

Also in Smuda's squad are German-raised midfielders Adam Matuszczyk, currently with second-division Fortuna Duessdeldorf, and Eugen Polanski of Bundesliga club Mainz.

Polanski made his debut last August, a decision dogged by controversy because he previously had shown no interest in playing for the land of his birth.

The staunchest critics said Poland risked turning into a home for Germany rejects, but Smuda defends his policy fiercely.

Beyond German-raised players, his side also includes midfielder Ludovic Obraniak and defender Damien Perquis, a Frenchmen with Polish roots.

Obraniak, who made his Poland debut in 2009, was the darling of his French cup and title-winning club Lille, but lost favour and left for Bordeaux to ensure more game time and cement his place in Smuda's squad.

Sochaux's Perquis, meanwhile, made his debut last September.

He subsequently took legal action after iconic 1970s Poland goalkeeper turned rightwing lawmaker Jan Tomaszewski called him "French trash".

Critics have long bemoaned the quality of the league in Poland, a nation of 38 million, compared with other relatively large European nations.

Underscoring that, the squad draws heavily on Poles who learned their trade at home but have crossed borders to flourish.

The Bundesliga contingent includes star striker Robert Lewandowski and his Borussia Dortmund team-mates, midfielder Kuba Blaszczykowski and defender Lukasz Piszczek, plus Cologne midfielder Slawomir Peszko.

Smuda's two goal-keeping choices, meanwhile, are from the English Premier League: Arsenal's Wojciech Szczesny and Lukasz Fabianski.

Source: AFP