Canada - Stoney Creek
Teams: Arsenal, Barcelona, Borussia Dortmund, PL NT
Obraniak unbowed by great expectations
Thursday 3 September 2009
by Piotr Koźmiński
After turning heads on his Poland debut, Ludovic Obraniak is desperate to live up to the rising expectations from his newly adopted country's fans in the FIFA World Cup qualifier against Northern Ireland on Saturday.
The French-born Obraniak, 24, only received Polish citizenship in June but made an immediate name for himself with both goals on his maiden appearance and sole cap to date – a 2-0 friendly win over Greece. Now the LOSC Lille Métropole midfielder is looking forward to his first competitive international as Poland welcome Northern Ireland to Chorzów sitting three points behind their visitors in Group 3 with a game in hand. "The Polish call-up gave me an enormous boost and I feel fantastic in the team," Obraniak said. "I want to pay back the fans and my colleagues. I am excited about playing my first qualification match for Poland."
Obraniak is keen to put behind him a tumultuous time at club level that is in stark contrast to the strides he has already made on the international stage. "I want Polish people to see another excellent game from me," he added. "After four games in the French league, Lille have taken only one point and I have been on the bench for two of those matches. It has been a difficult time, but thanks to the Polish national team I feel much better. It is great to know that the Polish fans have accepted me and expect so much – it gives me a lot of confidence."
Obraniak's efforts to integrate swiftly have seen him go to great lengths to learn sufficient Polish and join in the national anthem on Saturday. However, it is an injury sustained by one of his new team-mates, RSC Anderlecht defender Marcin Wasilewski, that is serving as extra motivation in the short term. "We all are shocked by what happened to Marcin," he explained. "Wasilewski is a special person for me; he helped me to score my first goal for Poland and took care of me during my first days in the squad. He is a key member of our team and we are desperate to win on Saturday so that we can dedicate this victory to him."
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