It is not good when one of the most interesting tournaments in world football is turning into a farce even before the ball was kicked. To set things straight at the beginning of this piece, I’m not a fan of colorizing tournaments with nations not belonging to the geographical region from which competitors but CONMEBOL does this regularly since 1993 and five countries, usually from CONCACAF, took part so far.
Mexico, although a frequent competitor in Copa América, is still regarded by few as an addition that shouldn’t be playing there, while their squad this year will be highly experimental, a mix between their U23 squad and first one. Then apparently Spain was invited but they turned it down, refusing the opportunity to maybe add this unexpected achievement to their fame gallery. Japan also was scheduled to take part but after recent problems in their country they are still thinking about possibility of sending their squad to Argentina host country of this year's Copa América.
Quite a problem they have, haven’t they? It’s not easy to find a replacement on such short notice and with football-free summer in Europe not many clubs will be willing to let their players on away trips to play for a cup as an addition. But not being fan of solutions like this doesn’t mean that I am not able to help them with an original idea – if CONMEBOL has so many problems in completing list of the teams competing for 43rd edition of Copa América, then they should invite Polish National Team for the tournament.
I know that Poland is not at the level they want from the competitors but still somehow Franciszek Smuda’s team is higher in FIFA ranking than Bolivia and only few places behind Venezuela. And that arguably may not be the reason of the football presented by Poles lately, but lack of competitive games in last two years. With constant moaning of Polish coach that his first competitive game in the role he has for almost two years will be the one that opens EURO 2012, we could make his life easier with three games against decent teams.
There is more to back this idea from Polish perspective. Smuda very recently said that he would jump into the fire for his team but there is nothing bad in a month of time spent together and I believe that it is what he dreams of. We could doubt in the point of playing with opposition that is not similar to the opposition we will face during EURO 2012 but that seems not a problem for Polish Football Federation and team staff as tour to USA last year shows us.
There are terms of football, like month long training and game regime similar to the one they will be in next summer but what about concerns about the squad Poland could send to Argentina? I’m sure PFF will make Polish teams let players go on such trip, while those playing abroad are not that valuable parts of their clubs and everything is a matter of discussion with coaches. Nevertheless – Smuda said many times that he has now around 30 players pre-selected for EURO 2012 – he could pick and take twenty of them to the Copa América without a doubt.
Also, I think that Polish Football Federation and president Grzegorz Lato would love this idea – being the first European team that competed in Copa América would be great achievement for them, no matter what the outcome would be. The reaction, rather positive one, and fame is something Lato and co looks for all the time and with their national reputation being closer to ‘bad’ they would look forward to shine in Argentina, a trip that for many of them would be fantastic chance to bring back the memories from World Cup in 1978.
I may be getting ahead of myself but going there and losing control of the team, failing to get any decent result will be definitely enough for PFF to sack Franciszek Smuda. I’m not taking this possibility as a certainty but looking at problems he had during his tenure with different players libations… with the time they will spend there… You get the point. Trip to Argentina, depending on the outcome, might be the last alarm for this team and possible change will not be as easily excluded as is now.
The big question is what CONMEBOL and Argentina will get from possible inviting Polish team to their party. As previously stated, Smuda’s squad is not in the class of Japan and Spain (remember that 0-6 before latest World Cup? Still hurts!) but it’s not for the players – it’s all for the fans. As Polish fans travel to all games and with large numbers of Poles living in both Americas, they may be sure that travelling support of white-reds will be there,
spending money cheering on the team. And it’s better behaving part of Polish fans to the one that caused so many embarrassing troubles in Kaunas.
For many of you that idea is probably a silly one but I couldn’t be more serious about it. ‘Poland for Copa América 2011’ may not be as obvious ‘win-win’ situation for both sides as it is for me but clearly with the squad lacking any shape right now, failing to get their focus on the field and the pressure, atmosphere of the big tournament like that one, the opportunity cannot be wasted. The experience coming from competing with South Americas finest footballers would be priceless, simple as that.
Polish Football Federation, give it a thought, for the sake of this team.