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EXCLUSIVE Chovanec joins Boniek in Poland race

Friday 28th June 2002

Former Czech Republic coach Josef Chovanec has joined Zbigniew Boniek in the running to replace Jerzy Engel as Poland coach. "I was successful working with the Czech team, so why should not I try with Poland if asked?" Chovanec told onefootball.com.

Dariusz Wdowczyk, Stefan Majewski, Adam Nawalka and Werner Liczka are also in the running, but the leading Polish candidate for the job appears to be Boniek, the former Juventus star who made such an impact in the 1982 and 1986 World Cups.

"I know I am one of the candidates and I have already talked to [Polish FA president] Michal Listkiewicz about it," Boniek confirmed.

Chovanec, though, who resigned as coach of the Czech Republic after they lost to Belgium in a World Cup qualifying play-off, has made it clear that he would love the job.

"If I got an offer from Poland, I would think it over very seriously," he said. "It is always a great honour to be a candidate to work with a national team. I have been in talks with Iraklis and some Czech sides, but we have not come to an agreement, so now I am free and interested in talking about the Poland job."

Despite being the first European side to qualify for the finals, Poland disappointed, losing to South Korea and Portugal before gaining some consolation with victory over the USA.

"I watched two Poland games in the finals and, like other people, I was very disappointed," Chovanec went on. "I had followed Poland's progress to the finals, and I thought the team could really surprise a few people. Unfortunately they did not. But they shouldn't give up; I know this team can play far better."

Boniek, meanwhile, was keen to stress that he would only take the national job under certain conditions. "I have to know what is expected," he said. " Should we try to reach the European championship finals, or are we looking to build a side that will last for a long time?"

Whatever Poland's goal, Boniek believes changes are necessary. "I would definitely say goodbye to some of the older players," he said. "But if we introduce young players we have to be aware that it would be difficult to predict what will happen as young players can play either very well or very badly.

"As a coach, I would make certain modifications, changing the mentality of our players. The have to understand that the national team is the most important and most exciting thing they will experience in their lives. You cannot play for the national team for money; as far as money goes, you have to be mainly paid by your club.

"A Poland international most know that he has to sacrifice some time to journalists, to sponsors and to public opinion. He can't complain that a hotel is bad, or that he has to talk to the press for free - we must get over things like that."

Listkiewicz refused to be draw on who his preferred candidate would be. "Boniek would be a good choice," he said, "but we are thinking about others. I have taken no decision yet. I will speak to the candidates, then have a few weeks holiday, think it over, and only then announce my decision."

onefootball ;)
 
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