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FOOTBALL

Freak goal means misery for Poland

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Maciej Zurawski, left, from Poland fights for the ball with Pablo Pachon

SPECIAL REPORT

CHORZOW, Poland -- A freak goal from goalkeeper Luis Enrique Martinez helped Colombia to a 2-1 win on Tuesday in Poland's last home friendly before the World Cup.

Polish fans booed their team for much of a poor second half and coach Pawel Janas faced a barrage of abuse from local journalists at a packed post-match news conference.

"It's not yet time to talk about a crisis because we are still at the preparation stage," said Janas.

"This match was not a success and I do feel some concern. There were moments where we did not control the situation on the pitch and we did not carry out the tactics we had set ourselves."

West Bromwich Albion keeper Tomasz Kuszczak's hopes of earning a World Cup starting place nosedived when he allowed Martinez's long punt to bounce over his head into the net in the 63rd minute.

Janas said Celtic keeper Artur Boruc was also at fault for the first Colombia goal by Elkin Murillo, a deflected free kick on 20 minutes which prompted renewed criticism of his decision to omit Liverpool's Jerzy Dudek from his 23-man squad.

"Both goalkeepers allowed goals which could have been avoided," Janas said.

"Dudek also made mistakes and recovered from them. It is still open which keeper will be number one for the finals. Both are in good form."

The Poles had only a handful of chances, mainly shots from distance, with the new pairing of Celtic's Maciej Zurawski and Borussia Dortmund's Ebi Smolarek failing to spark up front.

Winger Ireneusz Jelen strengthened his case for the finals by pulling a goal back for Poland in the last minute.

Janas said: "In particular I was not satisfied with the defense.

"The players lack dynamism and pace but we have another nine days until the finals and we will work on this in Germany."

Poland face hosts Germany, Ecuador and Costa Rica in World Cup Group A next month.

Czechs win

The Czech Republic on Tuesday won a World Cup tune-up match against fellow World Cup finalists Costa Rica 1-0 in Jablonec.

The Czechs, who played with what can be considered their second string team, left it late before Vratislav Lokvenc scored the only goal in the 83rd minute.

Costa Rica's coach Alexandre Guimaraes said before the game that he would be using most of the players who will start in the World Cup opening match against Germany on June 9.

After disappointing in their last two friendlies against a Catalonian XI (0-2) and the Ukraine (0-4) Guimaraes used a defensive formation, playing six in midfield and three in the back with only Paulo Wanchope upfront.

As a result Costa Rica had very few chances while the Czechs, who face the US, Ghana and Italy during the June 9 - July 9 tournament, had several good opportunities.

Costa Rica will face Germany, Equador and Poland in Group A at the finals.

Coast held

World Cup rookies Ivory Coast on Tuesday played to a 1-1 draw against Chile in a World Cup warm-up match in Paris.

Aruna Dindane opened the scoring for the African side in the 71st minute with a converted penalty, but Humberto Suazo equalised six minutes later.

The Elephants - as Henri Michel's team are known - will be facing Argentina, Serbia-Montenegro and the Netherlands in Group C during the June 9 - July 9 tournament.

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