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   June 9, 2002 | 1530 IST



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Poles hope to shake off 'Asian virus'

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Gideon Long

Polish coach Jerzy Engel says his side will shake off their "Asian virus" and fight hard for their World Cup survival when they face Portugal on Monday.

The Poles lost 2-0 to South Korea in their first match, rekindling memories of their shock home defeat by the same scoreline to Japan in a pre-tournament friendly.

"It seems we have an Asian virus," Engel told a news conference ahead of the group D clash in Chonju, which both the Poles and Portuguese must win to stand any chance of reaching the second round.

"Our side has no idea how to stop the Asian teams.

"We gave a lot of presents to both Japan and Korea but unfortunately that happens," he added. "It's history now and we have to concentrate solely on the match against Portugal."

Engel is likely to make a few changes to the side which surrendered meekly to the Koreans.

Versatile defender Jacek Bak picked up a back injury in that match and, although he has almost fully recovered, might be replaced by Tomasz Klos at right back.

Marek Kozminski and Jacek Krzynowek are likely to keep their wide midfield berths but could switch places, with Kozminski starting on the left.


Up front, Engel still has to choose between Pawel Kryszalowicz and Maciej Zurawski, who played 45 minutes apiece in the opening match.

Engel described the Portuguese players as "fantastic" and said they were unlikely to perform as poorly against Poland as they did in their 3-2 defeat by the United States in their opening game.

"They were very good two years ago at the European championships, and very unlucky to lose there to France," he said.

"Their strongest points are their midfield and attack, and they're well supported by the defenders, particularly Rui Jorge and Beto."

Polish defender Michal Zewlakow said the team was well prepared physically and were not finding the humidity and heat in South Korea as draining as they had feared.

"I was afraid the weather would make it impossible to play a full 90 minutes, so I was happy when I stepped off the plane and found it wasn't so bad," he said.

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