They had not been present during the summer congress of Europe’s finest in West Germany, Poland, as they had only finished fourth in their qualification group. Their showing during the last World Cup, the one in Mexico ’86, had left a great deal to be desired, even if they did make it to the second phase. Their squad had been ageing, and they had suffered heavy defeats against both England and, to send them out of the tournament, Brazil. 

Wojciech Łazarek had been tasked by the Polish FA to start the rebuilding process, but would the 1990 qualifiers come too soon for the Polish? And just how much patience would there be? Read more…

World Cup appearances: 1938, 1974, 1978, 1982, 1986

Manager: Wojciech Łazarek


Qualifier 1
Stadion Śląski, Chorzów

K. Warzycha (78′)



Despite never firing on all cylindres, Poland deserved to win their opening game, and could have had more goals but for a fine performance by the visiting ‘keeper. Łazarek had perhaps disrupted the balance in the team slightly when taking off defensive midfielder Matysik for winger Ziober at half time, but they still dominated the visitors, and finally got their reward when K Warzycha finished well for his first ever international goal in what was his home ground. This was after Łazarek had re-installed a player in the defensive midfield position: Komornicki had replaced forward Furtok with the score locked at nil apiece.

Line-up (4-4-2): Wandzik – R Warzycha, Wójcicki, Łukasik, Wdowczyk – K Warzycha, Matysik (Ziober h-t), Rudy, Urban (c) – Furtok (Komornicki 73), Smolarek.


Costa Rica
Guimarães (11′)
Jara (68′)


K. Warzycha (8′, 30′)
Kosecki (15′)
Urban (66′)

The first match of a three-legged Latin America tour saw yet another win for Poland, their sixth in succession. Łazarek had given debut to Górnik Zabrze full-back Jegor, and also to substitutes Szuster (Ruch Chorzów) and Soczyński (ŁKS Łódź). With regular sweeper Wójcicki most likely being unavailable, it had been up to Legia Warszaw defender Kaczmarek to take up this position, in what was his fourth international appearance. Wias of Katowice looks to have held the defensive central midfield position, with Tarasiewicz, Prusik and Urban also in the starting line-up. K Warzycha and Kosecki will have been the two strikers. Warzycha, who had opened his account for Poland in the 1-0 home win against Albania, added a further two to his tally, and there were also goals from Kosecki and Urban.

Line-up: Wandzik – Jegor, Kaczmarek, Łukasik, Wdowczyk (Szuster 31) – Prusik (c), Wijas (Rzepka 62), Tarasiewicz (Soczyński 79), Urban – Kosecki, K Warzycha.




K. Warzycha (53′)

For a third successive international K Warzycha registered a goal as Poland grabbed their seventh successive win. Prusik or Wijas at right back here? Wide man Szuster started his first international. He was replaced at half time by Ruch club colleague Fornalak, who made his debut. Wandzik was Łazarek’s man between the sticks for this tour. Most likely a 4-4-2 again, with Kosecki and K Warzycha up top.

Line-up: Wandzik – Szuster (Fornalak h-t), Kaczmarek, Łukasik, Wdowczyk (Jegor 80) – Prusik (c), Wijas (Soczyński 80), Tarasiewicz (Rzepka h-t), Urban – Kosecki, K Warzycha.


Alves (6′)
Kaczmarek (43′ o.g.)
Moreno (49′)


Kosecki (80′)

Playing their third match within the space of a week, Poland finally suffered defeat. They had been 3-0 down when Kosecki pulled a goal back ten minutes from time. 4-4-2 again the most likely formation, yet again with Kosecki and K Warzycha leading the line, and with Górnik Zabrze man Rzepka starting an international for the first time since 1981!

Line-up: Wandzik – Wijas, Kaczmarek, Łukasik (Fornalak 67), Wdowczyk – Prusik (c), Tarasiewicz (Szuster h-t), Rzepka (Soczyński h-t), Urban – Kosecki, K Warzycha.


Urban (40′)
Tarasiewicz (59′)


Sabău (57′)

Back to winning ways on home soil in Warszaw after goals from Urban and Tarasiewicz. Bako had replaced Wandzik between the posts for his second international, and at sweeper Szewczyk from Śląsk Wrocław won his first cap. Furtok was back to lead the line, and Dziekanowski came on as a second half substitute to win his 50th cap more than ten months after his last appearance. There had also been a start at full-back for Soczyński. Tarasiewicz’ goal had been yet another screamer from distance. 

Line-up: Bako – Prusik (c), Szewczyk, Soczyński, Wdowczyk – K Warzycha (Ziober 65), Wijas, Urban, Kosecki (Araszkiewicz h-t) – Dziekanowski (Tarasiewicz h-t), Furtok.




Furtok (22′, 50′)
Wdowczyk (80′)

Line-up: Bako – Soczyński, Szewczyk, Łukasik, Wdowczyk – K Warzycha, Prusik (c) (Kaczmarek h-t), Tarasiewicz (Ziober 61), Urban – Dziekanowski (Kosecki h-t), Furtok.

Qualifier 2
Råsunda Stadion, Stockholm

Ljung (76′)
Nylén-Larsson (90+2′)


Tarasiewicz (87′)

Line-up (4-4-2): Bako – Soczyński, Wójcicki, Łukasik, Wdowczyk (Tarasiewicz 16) – K Warzycha, Matysik, Prusik (c), Urban – Dziekanowski (Kosecki 61), Furtok. Unused subs: Jankowski, Kaczmarek, Szewczyk.

Qualifier 3
Wembley, London

Lineker (24′)
Barnes (70′)
Webb (83′)



Outplayed in the first half, Poland are still in the game only a goal behind. They could even have scored from a couple of decent opportunities, through Urban and Prusik respectively. As they are more in the game possession wise after the break, they lose a killer second goal when unable to put enough pressure on the hosts, and it is game over.

Line-up (4-4-2): Bako – Prusik (c), Wójcicki, Łukasik, Wdowczyk – K Warzycha, Wijas, Matysik, Urban (Tarasiewicz 71) – Leśniak (Kosecki 61), Furtok.

Managerial change
15.06.1989 Wojciech Łazarek would be relieved of his managerial duties, and in came Legia Warszawa boss Andrzej Strejlau to guide the team through their final three qualification matches. Along as his assistant came Lesław Ćmikiewicz, who had been part of the fine 1974 World Cup bronze winning side, and a player at Legia under Strejlau. They would be further accompanied by former goalkeeper Jan Tomaszewski, certainly famous for his Wembley heroics in the 1-1 qualifying match for that ’74 World Cup. 


Wdowczyk (60′)


Soviet Union
Kiryakov (30′)

Strejlau’s first match in charge brought along four players from his Legia Warszaw side into the starting line-up, of which left-sided defender Wdowczyk was the most obvious pick, debutant defender Budka the least so. Wójcicki, who had been sweeper in all of Poland’s three qualifiers to date, would never again feature for the national team. Łukasik had been a regular at centre half. He would not play again during the qualifiers for Italy. The same was the case with experienced midfielder Matysik, who, like Wójcicki, will never again pull on the Poland jersey. This resembles a 3-5-2 from Strejlau, with Kaczmarek at sweeper, and Budka and Wdowczyk as central defenders. Nawrocki will have kept the defensive midfield role, with Urban and Prusik, Strejlau’s first ever international captain, in the more attacking roles, and with R Warzycha and Ziober down the flanks. K Warzycha and Kosecki were up front. Wdowczyk got the Polish goal as a leveller in the second half. Lobanovsky had featured two debutants from start in Fokin and Shmarov, and would later bring on three further first caps.

Line-up: Bako – R Warzycha, Kaczmarek, Budka, Wdowczyk – Prusik (c) (Czachowski h-t), Nawrocki, Urban (Godlewski 80), Ziober – K Warzycha (Soczyński 25), Kosecki.

Stadion Wojska Polskiego, Warsaw

Warzycha (2′)
Dziekanowski (27′)
Ziober (43′)



First half goals from R Warzycha, Dziekanowski and Ziober made sure of Strejlau’s first win as national team boss. This time around it looks like he might have reverted to 3-4-3, where Dziekanowski played in the centre of attack, flanked by Kosecki and K Warzycha. Nawrocki and Tarasiewicz were at centre midfield, and Kaczmarek appears to be Strejlau’s clear first choice at sweeper.

Line-up (3-4-3): Wandzik – Budka, Kaczmarek, Wdowczyk (c) (Soczyński h-t) – R Warzycha, Nawrocki (Czachowski 37), Tarasiewicz, Ziober (Śliwowski 70) – K Warzycha, Dziekanowski, Kosecki.

Estadio Municipal de Riazor, La Coruña

Míchel (20′)



Poland never embarrass themselves against a very strong-looking Spain team, though they fail to ignite going forward, and only create a couple of opportunities to score. At the back, they start off with four players from Strejlau’s former club team (Legia Warszawa), as well as holding midfielder Kaczmarek from the same club. They look relatively solid. Their attacking shortcomings are further exposed when Kaczmarek is moved into the libero role with Budka coming off injured.

Line-up (4-3-3): Bako (Wandzik h-t) – Kubicki, Budka (Soczyński 54), Kruszankin, Wdowczyk (c) – R Warzycha, Kaczmarek, Czachowski – Kosecki (Kubisztal 73), K Warzycha, Ziober.

Qualifier 4
Stadion Śląski, Chorzów




Mr Strejlau’s first qualifying match in charge, and they had been hoping to keep their dream of qualification alive. Had it not been for an alert 40 year old Shilton, they would have been in front at half time: The visiting ‘keeper kept the Polish at bay with some fine stops. Poland had a shoot on sight policy, and a few of their efforts were fine ones, though Dziekanowski’s close range header was probably the closest they came. They slowed down after the break, where they could not put the English under the same amount of pressure, and the game petered out in a scoreless draw. Not even theory can help Poland qualify for Italy now. 

Line-up (3-4-3): Bako – Czachowski, Kaczmarek, Wdowczyk (c) – R Warzycha, Nawrocki, Tarasiewicz, Ziober – Kosecki, Dziekanowski, K Warzycha (Furtok 58)

Qualifier 5
Stadion Śląski, Chorzów



Larsson (35′ pen.)
Ekström (60′)

After a partly impressive performance against England last time out, the Polish were made to look flat by an inspired Sweden, who through their win secured their passage to the World Cup. The Polish should have gone in front through Kosecki within the opening quarter of an hour, but once the visitors had scored a penalty to go ahead some 20 minutes later, the outcome was never really in doubt. Poland had a good few performers who were below par.

Line-up (3-4-3): Bako – Czachowski, Kaczmarek, Wdowczyk (c) – R Warzycha (Kubicki 68), Nawrocki (Góra 83), Tarasiewicz, Ziober – Kosecki, Dziekanowski, K Warzycha.

Qualifier 6
Stadiumi Qemal Stafa, Tirana

Kushta (63′)


Tarasiewicz (45′)
Ziober (84′)

Following a solitary point from their two ‘must-win’ home fixtures, Poland rounded their campaign off with a win. Strejlau stuck with the 3-4-3 formation, though they had at times looked less inspired against a team looking for their first qualification points. The tall Scewczyk had been brought in as the midfield enforcer, and after the hosts had struck the bar early, he, too, found the woodwork from distance, seeing his 25 yard shot cannon off the upright. Poland did struggle at times with Albania’s direct approach, but went in front on the stroke of half-time, when Tarasiewicz popped up in the area to capitalize from Kosecki’s failed shot. They lost Dziekanowski through injury early, conceded a second half equalizer, only for Tarasiewicz to play a key role in the winner as his free-kick from distance came off the post for Ziober to tap home. 

Line-up (3-4-3): Bako – Kubicki, Kaczmarek, Czachowski – R Warzycha, Szewczyk, Tarasiewicz, Wdowczyk (c) – Kosecki, Dziekanowski (K Warzycha 34), Ziober.


Prior to the qualification campaign, Poland must surely have felt that they could cause trouble to any opponent in this group, and certainly at home, where they were traditionally very strong. They would open with an expected yet narrow win at home to Albania, yet without impressing in particular, only to follow this up with away defeats against the group’s two stronger participants Sweden and England. The latter trounced the Polish 3-0, something which ultimately prompted the Polish FA into action, relieving manager Wojciech Łazarek of his duties. They would turn to Andrzej Strejlau as his replacement, and there would indeed be a notable change in use of personnel for their remaining three matches.

Poland had been in 4-4-2 under Łazarek, whilst Strejlau came in and switched to 3-4-3 for their remaining matches. They would give the English a big scare in Chorzów, yet they would ultimately just have a point to show for a fine performance, having encountered a very spirited English goalkeeper in Peter Shilton. That was that. Poland’s chance of qualifying was gone, and they would give an indifferent performance in their subsequent home game against Sweden, to whom they’d lose 2-0, also in Chorzów. Winning their final match in Albania could not save the reputation of the Polish from this qualification. Five points from six matches was probably just reward, though, as this was far from Poland’s finest vintage.

There had been some erratic goalkeeping performances from Jarosław Bako, yet both Łazarek and Strejlau would persevere with him. Defensively, the resolute Dariusz Wdowczyk, team captain under Strejlau, had looked sound, and he was indeed their only player to have started all six qualifiers. Few players had stood out in midfield and attack, though Robert Warzycha had been performing reasonably from his right-sided position, whether that be at full-back or as a wide midfielder. At the other end of the scale, a player like striker Jan Furtok, who had sealed a move to West German Bundesliga greats Hamburg during the qualification, had disappointed across his four performances.

Only five players had started four or more qualifiers, with no less than 27 players in action altogether. There had been a lack of consistency in team selection, and Strejlau had had other player preferences to his predecessor. Having a player like midfield playmaker Andrzej Rudy unavailable due to him defecting, had also not helped their plight.


Player Statistics

Number of players used: 27
Number of players including unused substitutes: 32
Ever-presents (540 mins): 0
Leading goalscorer: Ryszard Tarasiewicz (2)
Yellow/red cards: 4/0

– Overview

Warzycha, Krzysztof6514711
Wdowczyk, Dariusz66466
Bako, Jarosław554501/0
Tarasiewicz, Ryszard53236321/0
Warzycha, Robert44338
Kosecki, Roman53213281/0
Ziober, Jacek43113151
Furtok, Jan431285
Dziekanowski, Dariusz44278
Czachowski, Piotr33270
Kaczmarek, Zbigniew331270
Wójcicki, Roman33270
Łukasik, Damian33270
Urban, Jan33251
Matysik, Waldemar33225
Prusik, Waldemar22180
Nawrocki, Janusz221173
Kubicki, Dariusz2112112
Rudy, Andrzej1190
Smolarek, Włodzimierz1190
Soczyński, Piotr11390
Szewczyk, Roman111901/0
Wandzik, József11190
Wijas, Jerzy1190
Leśniak, Marek1161
Komornicki, Ryszard1117
Góra, Janusz117
Jankowski, Ryszard2
Jojko, Janusz1
Jojko, Janusz2
Kruszankin, Juliusz2
Śliwowski, Maciej1
Note: Poland only featured four out of a possible five substitutes for the away trip to Albania

– Game by game

PlayerAlb (h)Swe (a)Eng (a)Eng (h)Swe (h)Alb (a)AppsMins
Warzycha, R909068904338
Warzycha, K9090905890535+1471

– Ratings

PosPlayerAverage ratingsNumber of rated games
1R Warzycha6,874
11K Warzycha6,685
Explanation to table: Number of rated games: 6. A player must have been given a rating in half or more of the games in order to be considered.


02.02.1990 Iran 0-2 Poland
Goals: Ziober 2 (1 pen.)
Line-up: Wandzik (Bako h-t) – Kubicki, Szewczyk, Czachowski (Soczyński 67), Góra (Fedoruk h-t) – R Warzycha (Godlewski 80), Nawrocki, Kaczmarek (c) – Kosecki, Śliwowski (Nowak 80), Ziober

04.02.1990 Iran 0-1 Poland
Goal: Szewczyk
Line-up: Bako (Wandzik 47) – Duchowski (Kubicki 63), Szewczyk (c), Łukasik, Fedoruk (Czachowski 78) – Godlewski (R Warzycha 62), Soczyński, Nawrocki (Kaczmarek 81) – Kosecki, Nowak, Ziober (Śliwowski 81)

11.02.1990 Kuwait 1-1 Poland
Goal: Kosecki
Line-up: Wandzik (Bako h-t) – Kubicki, Kaczmarek (c), Łukasik, Soczyński – R Warzycha, Nawrocki, Czachowski – Kosecki, Śliwowski, Ziober

28.03.1990 Poland 0-0 Yugoslavia
Line-up: Wandzik (Bako h-t) – Szewczyk (Pisz 77), Kaczmarek (c), Wdowczyk – K Warzycha (R Warzycha 83), Urban, Tarasiewicz, Czachowski – Kosecki, Dziekanowski, Ziober

04.05.1990 Colombia 2-1 Poland (in Chicago, USA)
Goal: Kosecki
Line-up: Wandzik – R Warzycha (Kubicki h-t), Szewczyk, Czachowski (Łukasik 70), Góra – Pisz, Nawrocki, Kaczmarek (c) (Soczyński 84) – Kosecki, Nowak (Śliwowski h-t), Ziober

06.05.1990 Costa Rica 0-2 Poland (in Chicago, USA)
Goals: Pisz, Nowak
Line-up: Bako – Kubicki, Kaczmarek (c) (R Warzycha 60), Łukasik (Czachowski h-t), Góra – Pisz, Nawrocki (Soczyński h-t), Szewczyk – Kosecki, Moskal (Nowak 60), Ziober

09.05.1990 United States 3-1 Poland
Goal: Ziober
Line-up: Wandzik – Kubicki, Kaczmarek (c), Łukasik, Góra (R Warzycha 68) – Pisz, Szewczyk (Nawrocki 73), Czachowski, Soczyński – Kosecki, Ziober

19.05.1990 Scotland 1-1 Poland
Goal: Gillespie (own goal)
Line-up: Bako – Kubicki, Kaczmarek (c), Łukasik (Soczyński h-t), Wdowczyk – Prusik, Nawrocki (Pisz 70), Czachowski – Kosecki, Dziekanowski, Ziober

21.05.1990 Poland 4-0 United Arab Emirates (in Marseille, France)
Goals: Dziekanowski, R Warzycha 2, Kosecki
Line-up: Wandzik – Soczyński, Kaczmarek (c), Czachowski, Góra (Kubicki 66) – Prusik, Pisz (Nawrocki 65), R Warzycha – Kosecki, Dziekanowski, Ziober

06.06.1990 Belgium 1-1 Poland
Goal: Ziober
Line-up: Wandzik (Bako 54) – Kubicki, Kaczmarek (c), Czachowski (Soczyński 77), Wdowczyk – R Warzycha, Prusik, Tarasiewicz – Kosecki, Dziekanowski (Łukasik 62), Ziober