Our match prediction:
Kazakhstan never really stood any chance of qualifying for Euro 2016 against the likes of Czech Republic, Iceland, Turkey and Netherlands in Group A, but it might come as a surprise that the Hawks played only three games since their Euro 2016 qualifying failure. The country took part in two Word Cups as part of USSSR, but are yet to secure qualification as an independent country. This will be their sixth attempt to reach the big scene and it will begin with a match with one of Europe’s quality sides Poland. The White Eagles are coming off from an underwhelming Euro 2016 performance which was ended in quarter-finals at the hands of winners Portugal. Poland were expected to be one of the dark horses of the tournament having in mind the individual quality, but their key players – most notably Robert Lewandowski – failed to make their presence known in the competition. Bayern Munich forward opened the new season with a hat-trick in the opening round of Bundesliga and Adam Nawalka will be hoping his star player will be able to continue his fine form. Portugal are clear favourites to win and are predicted for easy three points at the Astana Arena.
Highligted Player (Lewandowski):
After scoring 36 goals in 59 league games for Znicz Pruskow, Robert Lewandowski joined Lech Poznan in June, 2008. The 184-cm-tall attacker scored 18 goals in 28 appearances for the club in the 2009/2010 Ekstraklasa campaign and during the season he was on Borussia Dortmund’s radar. The Polish forward signed a four-year deal with the Bundesliga side in June, 2010 and he quickly established himself as the team’s key attacker. Lewandowski was producing excellent performances with the Millionaires between 2010 and 2014 and it has to be noted that he won two Bundesliga trophies with the club (2010/2011, 2011/2012). He participated in the 2012/2013 Champions League final with Borussia Dortmund, but the Millionaires were beaten by fellow Bundesliga side Bayern Munich in the title game. However, he betrayed Borussia Dortmund fans in 2014 as he signed a four-year deal with the Bundesliga giants. Lewandowski impressed in the 2016/2017 Bundesliga campaign as he scored 30 goals in 32 league games for Pep Guardiola’s troops. The Polish footballer represented his homeland at Euro 2016 in France and he scored one goal at the showpiece tournament in France.
Highlighted Team (Poland):
Poland have recently emerged as one of Europe’s top sides, although they did enjoy some success during the 70’s and 80’s. The White Eagles impressed to achieve third-place finish at the 1974 and 1982 World Cup tournaments, while they also win the 1972 Olympics, albeit with an amateur side. Poland started showing improvement at the turn of the century, slowly becoming regular at major tournaments and they even co-hosted the Euro 2012 with Ukraine, but disappointed home fans to crash out in the group stage. The new generation, boasting players like Robert Lewandowski, Arkadiusz Milik, Lukas Piszczek, Grzegorz Krychowiak and Jakub Blaszczykowski, has the potential to help the national team return to old glory days, with some talented players also coming through the youth ranks. Zbigniew Boniek, Wlodzimierz Lubanski and Grzegorz Lato are some of the other players who have impressed playing for the national team, which has been playing their home games at the National Stadium in Warsaw.