Leo Beenhakker insists he sees "no reason to lose the faith" despite Poland's demoralising 3-0 friendly defeat by the United States in Krakow on Wednesday.
It was their heaviest loss since 2004, when Paweł Janas's team lost 5-1 at home to Denmark, and the manner of the defeat was a major concern. Defenders made mistakes and the Polish players looked second best in every department, yet coach Beenhakker remains confident, passing it off as a minor blip rather than a more general malaise. "My players were probably not focused enough," said the 65-year-old, who has led Poland to their first UEFA European Championship at the first attempt. "I know we can improve on this."
His faith is admirable, but the same could not be said of his charges' display. Since beating them 3-1 at the 2002 FIFA World Cup finals, Poland have played the United States four times, and while they had not won in their previous three fixtures, this latest encounter with Bob Bradley's side seemed to reflect a real gulf in class opening up between the two nations.
Perhaps the most unsettling part of the defeat was the fact that Poland were able to select from what is regarded as their best squad and played the same tactical system that served them well in qualification, although once more their Dutch coach talked down such concerns. "What does 'strongest team' mean? We had 16 or 17 players who were available and I decided to pick them," said Beenhakker, who will take heart from the fact that before the loss Poland had won four games in succession without conceding a goal.
The reverse stirred up memories of the bad results which preceded the 2002 and 2006 World Cup finals campaigns, with Poland going on to bow out in the group stage both times. The players, however, remain calm. "We still have time to improve," said striker Radosław Matusiak. "This is a very important lesson."
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