Poland's stand-in captain, Jacek Bąk, has added incentive to reach the UEFA EURO 2008™ final as he would become the first Pole to win 100 international caps.
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Poland's stand-in captain, Jacek Bąk, has an added incentive to see his nation go all the way to the final of UEFA EURO 2008™, as the veteran defender can make football history by becoming the first Pole to win 100 international caps.
Poland admit that they have only an outside chance of making it out of their group as they need to beat Croatia in Klagenfurt on Monday by at least two clear goals and also hope that Austria can defeat Germany. The Croatia tie is a big one for 35-year-old Bąk as he will win his 97th senior cap, and he knows that further appearances in the quarter-final, semi-final and final would take him to the magic number of 100, something no Polish player has ever done before. Many of the country's fans believe that legendary duo Kazimierz Deyna (103) and Grzegorz Lato (100) both reached their centuries, though according to official FIFA records a number of their caps were awarded during Olympic tournaments and are therefore not accepted as full internationals.
"I never counted on playing so many matches for the Polish team. I'm close to the magic 100," the FK Austria Wien veteran told euro2008.com. "I had this plan to reach 100 during this championship. It will be tough, no need to beat around the bush. I'm just focusing now on the next match against Croatia in order to do the best we can, me and my team. I have ideas about finishing my international career after the EURO. I don't know for sure, I have a number of ideas. We'll see. It will also depend on this last match against Croatia. I will make the decision after this match."
Poland go into the Croatia game knowing their fate is not in their own hands, but Bąk, who took over as team captain after Maciej Żurawski's injury in the first game, says the team have a point to prove – especially to their fans. He said: "We may have only one game left. I don't want to say that we have to say goodbye to this tournament. We still have some hope and want to show our best side during this match. Our fans rely very strongly on us. We let them down a bit. We feel a bit silly, but it's football. That's life – we wanted to do our best but we didn't succeed. We have a small chance. We will have to win.
"It will be a very difficult match for us. Croatia will play a bit more laid-back and if you're laid-back you can actually show more because there's less pressure. We are under a lot of pressure, and with a shadow of a chance of qualifying. It will be very difficult to play against them. Croatia have played and won against Germany in style, the same with the Austrians, so it will be very hard for us. But I believe in our team, that we'll pull ourselves together, be mobilised, play good football and win a game during these championships."