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Poland plot path to glory

Leo Beenhakker says Poland are "three steps from footballing heaven" as his side look to avoid creating "bad memories" by qualifying for UEFA EURO 2008™.

Coach Leo Beenhakker says Poland are "three steps from footballing heaven" as his side look to avoid creating future "bad memories" by reaching the finals.

Winning position
Two points clear atop Group A with three games remaining, a win at home against Kazakhstan on Saturday would set Poland up nicely for their final qualifiers at home against Belgium and away against Serbia on 17 and 21 November. As their experienced Dutch coach put it: "We are three steps from footballing heaven but every one of them will be extremely difficult."

'I hate bad memories'
Poland are wary of a Kazakhstan side which they struggled to beat 1-0 earlier in the campaign and recently beat Serbia, but defender Michał Żewłakow admitted that "it is hard to imagine we will not win". Goalkeeper Artur Boruc added with a smile: "We are in sight of a first European Championship finals wnd we want to get there otherwise we will have bad memories for years. I hate bad memories."

Górnik hopefuls
The pressure of Poland's position has not discouraged Beenhakker from experimenting, with 22-year-old Górnik Zabrze forward Tomasz Zahorski joining the party for the Kazakhstan game and next week's friendly against Hungary. Given that he only made the leap up from fourth division OKS 1945 Olsztyn to Groclin Grodzisk Wielkopolski in the 2005/06 winter break, it is quite an achievement.

Nice surprise
"Last Monday our president came to training and gave the coach two pieces of paper," said Zahorski. "They announced that me and [Górnik team-mate] Konrad Gołoś had been selected for the Poland squad. All the players congratulated us. I was surprised and happy. This could be a turning point in my career. I already had one when I jumped from the fourth division to the Ekstraklasa."

'Young and ambitious'
Beenhakker is delighted that the likes of Zahorski and midfielder Gołoś are so eager. "I have a group of young and ambitious players who want to be a part of the national team," he said. "It is great to see Zahorski and Gołoś here. I am very happy with their performance in training. They are players who can play at international level." Whether either will be given the chance to shine in the crucial game against Kazakhstan is a moot point, but the fact that the coach is already looking for potential squad players for the finals can only be an encouraging sign.

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