Smuda wants knockout spot for Poland

13 June 2012 06:47

Poland manager Franciszek Smuda believes his side's 1-1 draw with Russia proved they have enough quality to reach the knockout stages of Euro 2012.

The co-hosts went behind when Alan Dzagoev fired the Russians in front in the 38th minute with his third goal of the tournament, but Jakub Blaszczykowski's hit a wonderful 58th-minute equaliser and Poland arguably enjoyed the better chances to steal all three points.

Smuda has now called on his side to beat the Czech Republic in their last Group A match and show they are worthy of a quarter-final spot, and he said: "It is getting better and better. Today's match proved that we are good enough to win against the Czech Republic."

He added: "Our team can see that we have a chance of reaching the knockout stage and we will do everything we can to use that chance. In 2011 we came together to build a new team, and when you do that you do not always play perfectly, but we have played a lot of good matches."

Smuda admits playing on home turf brings a different kind of expectation but believes things are becoming easier to deal with as the tournament progresses.

"The pressure is always there," he added. "It is not getting any greater - in fact it was probably at its worst before the first game. Now that the tournament is up and running, and the first game is out of the way, the adrenalin level is lower and the pressure is dipping.

"Now we have a few days to prepare and to rest, to recover and regain our freshness."

Russia boss Dick Advocaat, whose side impressed with a 4-1 win over the Czechs in their opener, was frustrated by the result. He felt Russia were deserving of the victory, but admitted there was little his players could do about Blaszczykowski's moment of magic.

He said: "The first win was nice and I really thought this one was going to end 1-0 because we controlled the game. We won that first game 4-1, but this one was like an away game, and you just have to accept that their equaliser was a beautiful goal.

"When you score a goal like he (Blaszczykowski) did, you must be a good player. It was a nice goal. But if you are objective you would say that both teams worked hard, but Russia had more possession and created more."

Source: PA