THE HALF DECENT FOOTBALL MAGAZINE

What are the expectations for the team?
Most Poles seem to think that reaching the quarter-finals from the weakest group is a mere formality. It is at least a realistic target for the team in the tournament with the lowest FIFA ranking. Even failure will be a success as the universally disliked Grzegorz Lato, head of the football association, has promised to resign if we do not make it through.

Is the coach popular?
Once the popular choice, Franciszek Smuda is now widely derided for constantly changing his views on everything. Having ridiculed Germany for selecting players with foreign roots, he now does the same. His public falling out with players who would add experience to the team, such as Michal Zewlakow and Artur Boruc, was also highly comical. Smuda renewed his German passport recently in case he needs to flee the country after a Euro debacle.

Have any players appeared in TV commercials or other advertising?

Smuda did an ad for Biedronka, a chain of low-cost supermarkets, where he kicks a ball to an old woman and says "everyone needs to be called up and tried". He does not see irony in it, as he has already called up over 100 players to little effect. Robert Lewandowski turned down Biedronka to represent Gillette, even though he would have no facial hair even after being unshaven for weeks. Despite spending four years on the Real Madrid bench, Jerzy Dudek appears in ads for Castrol that are shown every day before and after the sports news at 8pm.

Which players are good interviewees and who are worst?
There are times when Wojciech Szczesny has something interesting to say, but he can be a bit of a big mouth like his father, Maciej, who was the national keeper in the 1990s. The rest just say things to the effect of "we'll do our best," "it's a game of two halves and "we count on our supporters.

Do any players have unusual hobbies or business interests?
Unsurprisingly, they are not a very interesting bunch, seemingly focused on cars, women, drinking and hair gel. Marcin Wasilewski's leg looks like it was bitten by a shark, though that resulted from a horrible injury that nearly ended his career rather than from taking part in extreme sports.

Will there be any rehearsed goal celebrations?
First of all, they have to find a common language as there are several "foreigners" in the squad. Then they have to score a goal. The squad's general lack of rehearsal extends to free-kicks and corners too.

What will the media coverage be like?
Come June, even the woman who forecasts the weather will be wearing white and red on air. Just about everyone who has ever kicked a ball will be asked for their opinion. Expect some bizarre perspectives from the famous ex-national team goalkeeper Jan Tomaszewski. He has a seat in parliament now and says something absurd almost every day on global warming, world hunger or corruption. He thinks he knows everything when it comes to football and tends to spit while he talks.

What will home support be like?
You cannot feel it yet but in June the nation will unite, apart from the hardcore who refuse to support the team as they say it belongs to the football association, not them. There was unhappiness over a fan-card scheme introduced to block troublemakers at away games. Almost all the travelling support boycotted games instead. I was thinking of leaving the country during the tournament but the chance to laugh at the celebrities who have just bought a scarf, learned the names of the players and the rules of the game would be too good an opportunity to miss. Maciej Slominski (FutbolNet.pl)

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