Euro 2012: Poland coach Smuda faces dilemma over who is safest pair of hands

One is an established star at just 22 and Poland's first choice goalkeeper, back from suspension and raring to go.

Updated: June 14, 2012 19:49 IST
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Warsaw: One is an established star at just 22 and Poland's first choice goalkeeper, back from suspension and raring to go.

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The other, three years older, has gone from substitute to national hero in the blink of an eye after coming on in his rival's place and immediately saving a penalty.

As the Euro 2012 co-hosts prepare for their must-win match against the Czech Republic on Saturday, coach Franciszek Smuda will have to make up his mind whether to field Wojciech Szczesny or Przemyslaw Tyton.

"We'll decide 24 hours before the match," the sphinx-like Smuda said after a training session.

Poland's goalkeeping coach Jacek Kazimierski was similarly tight-lipped.

"Each of our keepers has his advantages," he said.

PSV Eindhoven's Tyton - who only became the second-choice after Lukasz Fabianski, Szczesny's Arsenal and Poland understudy, was injured in pre-tournament training - found unexpected glory in his nation's opening match against Greece last Friday.

With the score 1-1 after Poland lost their lead to 10-man Greece, Szczesny was sent off 20 minutes from time for tripping Greek scorer Dimitris Salpingidis in the box.

Tyton gloved up, came on and immediately saved Giorgos Karagounis's spot-kick to save his country from defeat.

With Szczesny's red card earning him a one-match suspension, it was Tyton in between the posts for Tuesday's politically-charged fixture with Russia, which ended 1-1 after the Poles fought back to equalise.

With Saturday's match against the Czechs presenting a last chance for Poland to reach the quarter-finals, the assumption that Smuda will recall Szczesny may be misplaced.

"Whether I play in the last game or not, that's up to the manager. I'm available, I feel confident, I'm ready to play, so I'm hoping I'll be in the starting lineup," said Szczesny, who has been capped 11 times since making his debut in November 2009.

"This is what football's about. You want to fight for your spot. That can only help the team, people fighting for their places. I just hope that I get to play and help the team."

Tyton's message was similar.

"Everybody wants to play, and everyone wants to fight for his spot.

"But it's the boss that decides who he wants to rely on," said the keeper who has won seven caps since making his debut in May 2010.

"I'm counting on playing, but I'll go with whatever the boss wants," he added.

In any case, the public may be behind Tyton. An online survey by the portal found that 82 percent wanted him in goal.

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  • Football
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