WARSAW: Poland coach Franciszek Smuda said his Euro 2012 co-hosts were gradually coming to the boil after their gutsy draw with Russia in Group A, which left them needing a result against the Czech Republic in their final pool match.
With the Czechs having beaten Greece and the Russians already having seen them off 4-1 to bolster their goal difference, the Poles will have to beat the Czechs to reach the quarter-finals — unless Russia slip up against Greece. But Smuda feels that his team are improving after they came back from a goal down to take a deserved point against their giant neighbours in an emotionally charged atmosphere in Warsaw.
“The pressure is always there,” said Smuda. “It’s not growing. I’d say the highest tension and biggest pressure was before the opener, the match with Greece. Right now the tournament is up and running and after the first game the pressure’s lower and we’ve got a few days to prepare for the next match — we will fight to the very end against the Czech Republic.”
Santos bemoans another slow start
Meanwhile, Greece coach Fernando Santos said that another poor start had cost his side dearly as two goals in the first six minutes saw the Greeks lose 2-1 to Czech Republic in their Group A clash.
The 57-year-old Portuguese, who replaced veteran German Otto Rehhagel after the humiliating 2010 World Cup first-round exit, added that he had not given up on securing a last-eight spot in the tournament.
“We knew it could happen,” said Santos. “In their first match [a 4-1 loss to Russia], the Czechs were attacking from the moment they went on to the pitch. Now it is vital we look to the final match and hope still remains.”
Published in The Express Tribune, June 14th, 2012.
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